What would you do if you opened your front door asking, “Yes may I help you?” and the person on the other side responded, “I grew up here, I was wondering if I could take a look around?”
Well as sweet as he or she may appear (because you wouldn’t have opened the door otherwise), ‘Dear Abby’ advises that the stranger should have called ahead if they wanted you to consider the tour. Otherwise you should not feel obligated to show them around or guilty for not.
I have wanted to visit the house that I sort of grew up in; I lived there a lot. It was my grandparents house. For many years it was Grammy’s house and we had to cross over Pop-Pop’s bridge to get there. When Grammy passed away, we still crossed over Pop-Pop’s bridge but it was to get to Pop-Pop’s house.
In 2001, I was on a business trip in Delaware. This was my first time driving myself around in the place where I was born, where I had attended first grade and lived almost every childhood summer thereafter. I drove to the town in Pennsylvania to visit Pop-Pop and Grammy at the cemetery. Despite my lack of direction, I was proud to find their plots from memory.
Without a GPS, I found the way to Pop-Pop’s church. From Pop-Pop’s church, I knew the way to Pop-Pop’s bridge and over the bridge was Pop-Pop’s house. As I slowed down to look at the house, it looked the same. The thought did cross my mind to knock on the door and say, “I grew up here, would you mind if I looked around?” It was a fleeting thought that I would never act on and I know if the new owner was crazy enough to let me in, as well as it would be for me to enter, I would be disappointed.
Surely the aqua blue carpet, that was there from the time I first crawled across it from the time I last remember it being in there, had been replaced. But I would want to see aqua blue carpet. I would want to see the pale green summer sheers in my room with the wind blowing in the breeze and the doll lamp sitting on top of the chest of drawers.
I would want to see the piano in the living room. I would want to see a laced tablecloth across the dining room table and a sideboard with polished silver on top, with an a/c window unit as you passed through to the yellow kitchen. I would want to see the mustard colored appliances and spinning yellow leather chairs pushed up to a white formica topped kitchen table, set up for the next meal.
In the basement, I would want to find my hula hoop behind the rarely used clothes dryer except to play hide and seek. I would want to see the Hoover canister vacuum cleaner that all the grandchildren used as a push and pull vehicle. I would want to see the covered pool table and smell the chalk and powder in the air, and listen to jazz music playing.
From the basement I would want to go up into the backyard and see clothes hanging from the line. I would want to see the grass freshly cut, and the hedges trimmed to perfection. In the shed I would want to find the game sets of horseshoes and the colorful balls for croquet, that we played in the field. I would want to see the tire hanging from the tree. I would want to walk into Pop-Pop’s field and watch a train pass by.
Here’s the thing... these are memories that would be ruined by paying a visit to a place that now belongs to someone else.
Do you have a place you would prefer to remember as it was?