Thursday, 14 April 2016

Returning to a past

house or place of abode is an eerie experience.
There is a blog I enjoy called "Jean's Knitting". The writer is highly intelligent, witty and - well, older. She is approaching old age with the true determination of a knitter. She starts new projects - and  buys more yarn and she does far more knitting than I will ever do.
She and her husband own a flat in Edinburgh - and a house outside a village in Scotland.
Various trials and tribulations mean that, although they used to go on a regular basis, she has not been to the house for seven months. She went recently and her description of going back evoked memories for me.
We moved many times in my childhood. There are places I have never been back to - will never go back to. I can't go back to some because the houses are no longer there. The place I spent the first year of my life in is no longer there. Oddly, the second house - a standard Education Department fibro-asbestos board one - is still there. It is remarkable that such a relatively flimsy structure is still standing. We looked at it - from the outside - some time ago. I can only hope that the inside is better and more up to date.
And there are other, similar houses in other places. I have not seen them again.
The houses we lived in while in the city are still there. The homes of both sets of grandparents have been renovated but are still recognisably the same houses. One we lived in is in desperate need of repair. It looked small when we looked at it the other day and the side driveway looked so narrow. My memory of that driveway is a huge space where I tried, completely unsuccessfully, to learn to ride my brother's bike. It is actually barely wide enough to get a modern car down. I don't doubt that anyone who owns it now turns in the back garden and goes out forwards.
Another house has been demolished. It was weatherboard - cold in winter and hot in summer. The school administration block now stands on the same ground.
Other houses are simply too far away. I am told they exist but at least one  must be in a complete state of disrepair. They didn't clear the land properly before putting in the "stilts" on which fibro-asbestos houses stand. By the time we left trees were, once again, trying to grow beneath the house. How they survived without sunlight is a mystery.
I haven't been into any of these houses again. Perhaps it is just as well. I don't think it would be a comfortable experience. I would resent the changes in the home of my paternal grandparents. I would want them to be there. The other houses would bring back as many strange, uncomfortable, and unhappy memories as happy ones. I don't want that. I wouldn't want that sensation of familiar-but-strange - that sensation of distance.
You can't go back. 


Jenny Woolf said...

I would like to see a house where I lived in Sydney, Australia as a young child. I think there are mamories of that time which would be accessible to me if I could only remember the shape of the place properly. But of course so much is in the colours, the decor, etc. and that will have changed.

Helen Devries said...

I could go back to the houses of childhood, I suppose....but can't rouse any interest in doing so.
On the other hand I get quite wound up at what later owners have done to houses we have restored! How do I know? Because when they sell I see the photographs on ther agents' sites.