Friday, April 15, 2011

Going home

I took a listing a few months ago further north than my usual 'territory'.  The property, a beautiful craftsman home, was sited on Lake Goodwin, a lake I had visited every summer with my grandparents. I didn't mind driving the distance to hold it open or to replenish flyers. Driving there gave me the opportunity to go by my grandparents' old farm. A place I had spent endless summer days putting up hay, riding cows and tormenting the bulls with my brothers, picking apples with Grandpa Harry, and canning fruits and vegetables with Grandma Fannie. We spent every Christmas with them as well.
Christmas 1953
Uncle Bill, my dad, Uncle Wendell, Grandpa Harry, Cousin Colleen and my brother David

Christmas 1953
Aunt Ethel, Grandma Fannie, my mom, Aunt Elrita, Cousin Colleen and my brother David
That was a lifetime ago. Driving down the road, I couldn't believe how much the area had changed. A grade school stood in Mr. Green's front pasture. And as I approached my Grandparent's old farm I couldn't believe the enormous and out of place home that had been built along the ridge of their farm. I could just as easily been looking at an Egyptian Pyramid, as foreign as that home looked.

Bessie in the back pasture.
But the old farmhouse was still there, along with the tire swing and the lovely dahlia fields. It was strange how these deeply personal things brought back a flood of memories and yet sitting right next door in what use to be Bessie's pasture, the pasture my brothers and I ran through trying not to get shocked from the electric fence, was this monstrosity of a home. It was difficult to reconcile.

Last weekend I drove down to my hometown of Lake Oswego to reconnect with a dear friend. We hadn't seen each other since graduation night almost 33 years ago. After a few awkward moments, the connection we shared in high school came flooding back. Hours passed over a barely consumed salad. Hours spent discussing the past 32 years and reliving our school days. 

Tracy and myself - High School Graduation Class of '78
We decided to tour our home town together and relive some pretty funny and pretty nutty times. We visited our old schools, old friend's homes, said 'hi' to her mom, and saw my old house, the home I spent 22 years in. Normally a pretty fast driver, I found myself driving at a snails pace just to get a better view of things.

I am glad I had Tracy next to me. It would have been a pretty emotional tour otherwise. Things had changed too much over the years. The high school had been redesigned, the sweet cottages that flanked both sides of the lake had been torn down and replaced with Villas plucked from the Tuscan countryside, the old Sears catalogue store was now a Crate & Barrel, the Girl Scout Camp was now an office park, and there was actually a McDonalds in downtown Lake Grove.

A few things hadn't changed. The Giant was still tauting the best hamburger (I enjoyed them in 1965) and my junior high was virtually unchanged. The roads were in the same place but somehow the view had changed.

Beyond the basic 'coming to grips that the dentist office you went to as a child is now an antiques store', or 'the home you once shared with your family doesn't recognize you and you it', is this - places change just like people change. With every new owner comes a new design, a new layout, a new plan. Because in the end that's what we do. We make things personal to us. We make it our own.

My mom, myself and my brothers Steve and Mark outside our Inglemoor home in 1962-
our home before moving to Lake Oswego in 1964
As I sat there looking at my old home, agreeing in my head with the changes they had made, I realized that those memories from my childhood were not housed within those four walls, just as memories of Grandpa Harry and Grandma Fannie aren't housed in the old farmhouse. They are inside of me. Ready to revisit whenever I have the time. 

So as I sit down this evening with a glass of wine, I plan to open the door to my childhood and relive the funny, sometimes heart wrenching, but always personal memories and give thanks to friends like Tracy and my mom for holding my hand through life.

Until next week,

la chasse au bonheur

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