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A Walk Down Memory Lane


Last week while dropping off my daughter at a friend’s house, we drove through the neighborhood where I was raised. Making a detour, we turned onto the familiar road, and I immediately noticed a For Sale sign in front of my old house. My parents had sold the house 28 years ago when my father retired and had moved full-time to what was then their vacation home. I’d not been in the house since a few days before the movers arrived to pack everything up, but to this day I have vivid dreams about the beautiful stone house. 

After I dropped off my daughter, on an uncharacteristic whim, I returned to my neighborhood and knocked on the front door. I introduced myself and said I’d grown up there and just wanted to say hello.  The owner remembered my name, as she had bought the house from my parents long ago. She graciously invited me in, and we chatted for a few minutes. Upon leaving, in another uncharacteristic move, I called a friend of mine who works at the listing broker and asked her to arrange a showing for me.

The next day I had the house to myself for almost an hour. It was eerie how familiar everything was, despite almost 30 years of another family living there. The door handles were the same; the light fixtures in many of the rooms were the same ones that had been there when I was a child. I walked into the bathrooms and turned the same faucets I had turned a thousand times in my youth. A flood of memories and sensations invaded my brain when I saw tile and stone flooring that was so familiar, yet long forgotten.

Running my hands along the cork wall my mother had installed in my old bedroom brought images of my own pinnings that had once been on that wall. What I noticed most were the sounds. The sounds of doors opening and closing, of locks turning, treads squeaking, echos and reverberations of the sound of voices in a particular room. So much was the same, but thankfully much was different too. I could see the shadows of remembered people and animals, of events big and small, but not so clearly or vividly that it was poignant.

I said goodbye to the house, and I left. I know it is the last time I will ever be in that space.  Likely it will be torn down and replaced with some ostentatious structure that is too big for the lot but demonstrates some obscure form of success – a trend that is fashionable in too many neighborhoods these days.

My mother loved that house. Never one to emote, she kept her feelings about selling it closely guarded, but my visit there on Saturday was as much for her as it was for me. She would be pleased that the family who lived there maintained the integrity of the house, and they’ve lived in it well. I’m so grateful to have had this rare and wonderful opportunity to re-experience the smells and sounds and especially the spacial memories of a place that was so dear to me.

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With her fresh, uncensored take on fashion and life, SARA CORNELL tells it like it is. Her topics range from how her affair ruined her life—or maybe it didn’t—to how marriage, and being single, wasn’t what she thought it would be. She’s a woman who likes studded black leather, high heels and red lipstick and practices yoga and meditation each day, rarely in the aforementioned garb. Sara writes about things we’re all thinking, but are too afraid, or too self-conscious, to say out loud. Simply put, Sara is refreshing. Sara can also be found on her blog,

14 thoughts on “A Walk Down Memory Lane”

  1. Sara,
    That must have been somewhat bitter-sweet, especially since you’ve been dealing with your parents’ other home. At least it’s still pretty much intact. I’ve seen what the people have done to my Little House. It’s heartbreaking and criminal. I’ll just say money does not equal good taste.

    • Oh Brenda, I’m so sorry to read that your Little House isn’t being given the respect it deserves! You are so right about money not equalling good taste. Essie xx

    • Thanks Brenda, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to really say goodbye to the house on my own terms. I imagine that I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much had I done so when my parents moved out 3 decades ago…

    • I agree Linda. I feel like I have finished reading a book and can go start a new one now…!

  2. Love this post. I drove by my old house last July and it didn’t look the same–the home where I lived for 17 years. And I hardly
    ever drive by the house I was raised in, because it has changed a great deal and my memories are more perfect than its present
    condition, so I simply hold on to those. Beth

    • Beth,
      I read somewhere that when we revisit our childhood home, they often look smaller than we remember. Perhaps that’s because we were small when we lived there, so to us as children, the house looked big. Perhaps it’s a wise idea not to visit and tamper with our memories. Brenda

    • I agree Beth. As time goes by I’m learning to differentiate between memories that need to be maintained in our minds and memories that need a physical sensation to get activated. I’m glad I visited the house – and especially glad that the memories of it that I cherish most can never be torn down or re-upholstered!

    • What surprised me most was how familiar the sounds were – even in rooms that had completely different furniture and accessories. It was like hearing the heartbeat of the house…

  3. What a story! I often wonder how I’d feel – even as an adult – if my parents sold the farm they own in Tasmania where I grew up. Each time my visit there comes to an end and I have to come back to London, I always say a proper good bye. Just in case it’s the last time I get to wander around the places I used to love so much as a child. Esther xx

    • Thanks Esther. I feel a bit more grown up now… and slightly sad that a real chapter of my life is closed for good.

  4. What a wonderful opportunity to see the house. Bittersweet, I’m sure.

    I hope they don’t tear it down. It makes me crazy that there is so little regard for history and that people would rather live in a brand-new fake french chateau than in something well-loved that suits its surroundings.

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