Embracing the Past
“Sometimes we have to walk from the past and sometimes we have to embrace it. Heaven help us know the difference.” ~Adaleen Henrickson, character in the HBO Series Big Love.
Awhile back my Dad and I visited my childhood home with my son, Nathaniel. Having grown up locally, this only entailed a short 30-minute trip and lots of courage. Why courage? I’m not really sure. I guess I’ve never been one to look back so much, and the idea of seeing the home where awkward childhood and pre-teen years unfolded held about as much appeal as middle school gym class (and I hated gym class!).
But with my son approaching 8 years old, I naturally found myself reminiscing more and more about the places and activities I enjoyed when I was his age. I also kept wondering if my favorite climbing trees were still standing, so I called Dad to see if he’d like to photograph them with us. Of course he wanted to! My parents planted three small pine trees well before their children were born, and to them they would always symbolize the three lives they brought into the world. By the time we were in elementary school, those trees were as tall as the house and perfect for climbing and hiding out.
To my surprise and delight, what were once small pine trees now tower enormously over the tiny house my parents lived in as a young couple. It was pure joy to take my son back to my humble childhood home. He took to the trees in that yard as we had as children: climbing, playing, and fearlessly stretching further to see how high he could go before I’d stop him. The house is currently vacant, which gave us a rare opportunity to explore the yard, peek in the windows, and warmly embrace the lights of the past. We also got a treasure trove of photographs.
It was clear I had forgotten so much of my childhood. Maybe not forgotten, but certainly shelved away for a time. My son, after listening to my Dad and I discuss how virtually nothing about the home’s interior had changed, said, “There are some DEEP memories in that house.” Taking him there seemed an important way to honor a time in my life that is deeply cherished. As young as he is, he amazingly understood the visit’s significance.
I’m not sure I will ever return to the old house, but I peeked at the real estate listing the other day and discovered it had been completely remodeled and prepared for sale. I was so relieved to see it had been restored and could very well give three more small children a great start in life.
Note: This entry was originally published in February of 2012 by Shorelines, a blog maintained by the City of Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau.
While preparing photos and content for this blog post, I was inspired by these links:
1. Photo Album: Embracing the Past-Snapshots and stories from the day spent at my childhood home.
2. Timely Article: Virginia Beach Named One of the Best Places to Raise Kids-Having grown up in Hampton Roads and now raising my son here, this recent recognition came as no surprise. This is an awesome place to visit and raise children. After all, we have one of the highest number of playgrounds per capita in the nation!
3. Music: I played the song Growin’ up by local musician Julie Clark three times while writing this blog, and it certainly evoked some wonderful memories.