Yesterday afternoon I took a little trip to my old neighborhood. The one where D and the girls and I lived for a long time. This was our home when we first got married. The primary reason for this little excursion was to visit our next-door neighbor and friend A. I don’t think she would mind my saying that she is now elderly as age goes. She’s anything but elderly in her mind and in the way she acts and interacts with others. She looks wonderful physically. She stands straight and tall and she still moves gracefully. We were, both of us, so very happy to see one another. We hugged and hugged and then hugged again. We talked and laughed and reminisced. I must have stayed for an hour or more as we caught up with all the neighborhood news and our families. The fact that we have both lost our husbands put us on common ground. A’s husband died a while back. You know about mine already. Although A is of my mother’s generation, it’s as if she and I are not separated in any way by that now. We both grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, she in Virginia and I in North Carolina, so we have very similar backgrounds and experiences. It was a lovely visit and she is a lovely woman.
The rest of my memory stroll was rather dry like the autumn leaves that “make a mournful rustling.” It didn’t make me sad, just pensive and maybe grateful. I knocked on the door of our old house and met the young woman who is living there with her dog and her husband/boyfriend. She was very nice and we had a brief chat after I told her my name. She’s renting the house from D as he still owns it. I had not been on the property in years, not since our daughter lived there. I could not help noticing that the lawn and shrubs were in a bad state. The brick walk that D laid when we lived there was overgrown with weeds. The lawn hasn’t been mowed recently and I would guess that it’s been years since anyone has mulched the beds. I didn’t go in the back yard but I imagine the brick patio looks like the walkway. And from A’s house I could see that there was a tree down and apparently it has been for some time. Sad.
Before I left the neighborhood I drove around the circle and found that the rest of the street looks very much as it did years ago. The trees and shrubs are taller but the houses are neat and the lawns well-groomed. A tells me some of the “old” neighbors are still there. Others have moved on and new (to me) families reside within. It’s still a respectable area with everyday people and all the houses are different. No two alike. No “ticky tacky” on that street. I’ve always liked that about it.
As I drove away from that little oasis and back into the traffic of the city I gave a little sigh of relief. And yes, I felt grateful that I no longer live there. I’m not sure why. I imagine the state of the property was a factor. But that’s not quite it. Maybe it’s because I really have moved on. I remember wonderful, happy times in that house. But life has changed and we’re all different and You Can’t Go Home Again as Thomas Wolfe so succinctly put it.