Sunday, March 23, 2008

We Really Can't Go Home Again

On the way to dinner last night, we passed the street where Baroy and I (and our friends M and G and another guy who we try not to think about) all lived together. Baroy and Guy We Try Not To Think About lived there for about six years, G had moved in a year or two after, and M moved in about eight months before I did. I was there a year and a half when the stress of having Guy We Try Not To Think About around all the time--plus G's hour-long commute and my and Baroy's impending marriage--caused us to decide to go the more conventional route and go out and get our 'own' places.

I could write long books about those 18 months. I've started to, several times. They were, in many ways, the true Best Time of My Life. We often talk about the 'what ifs' of having continued to live together (the four of us, only) and having been a less-conventional family; Em, in particular, likes to wonder what it would have been like to have so many much-loved people living in her house with her.

So it was a little bit upsetting, when I impulsively swerved across traffic to turn down that old street, to find that the house we lived in is gone. Like, completely. Like, it and the house next to ours--both duplexes--had been torn down, and in their place was the shell of a new 'luxury' apartment building that, from the drawings out front, is going to wind up looking more Vegas casino than most Vegas casinos.

The feeling was similar to that of seeing the photos my mom occasionally sends of the complete destruction of the house I lived in from ages 13 to 18--and which I visited or stayed in throughout the years thereafter. Except, in that case, I knew when my mom and stepdad sold the house, and I knew what was happening to all the other nice, modest houses on that block as they sold. So when the wrecking balls moved in, and when the nice modest house turned into a cement monstrosity, it wasn't much of a surprise.

But this house...I can't remember the last time I drove past it, but it's been years. At least three or four years, since my friend Tamar--the last person I still knew in that neighborhood, moved away in 2005. But probably more than that, because I don't actually recall visiting it when I visited her. All I know is that the last time I'd seen it, it was intact, and it has remained untouched in my memory all that time, and all the times we've sat with M and G and reminisced. So to see it gone...hurt, frankly. Hurt a lot. Because now I can't show it to the kids one day, like I'd always assumed we'd do. But also because now when I think about it, it's going to truly only be a memory, and not a reality...not sitting there, ready, waiting, holding on to my past for me.

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