Credible, Decrepit, Pensive.
It had been more than 30 years since I left my hometown.
Frankly, I never expected to return. My folks had died when I was still in my 20s, my sister left the state, and it was just me. There was little to call me back, even though I was still about an hour away from home. Somehow, the adventure gene was one I hadn’t gotten.
Then a group of my friends found me on Facebook. I don’t even know why I signed up. Curiosity, I guess. I reconnected without any desire to come home, or do the reunion thing. In the span of time, 30 years isn’t much, but somehow time had attenuated my memories and the feelings attached to them. So I did a credible job of responding to the “remember whens” and “whatever happened tos” and kept my emotional distance.
Then, about 2 weeks ago, someone posted that the houses on the street where I grew up were about to be demolished. Some developer thought the small town needed a big-box strip mall and they’d chosen that area for it.
So here I was; I sat in the driveway, pensive, with no interest in going further. No one had bothered me – the houses were already empty – and the place I had called home for 22 years was decrepit. The owners who’d had it after my folks died hadn’t taken very good care of it, I thought.
You’re going to call me weird, but I’ve always thought that an abandoned house was one of the saddest things imaginable. When I was a little girl, my grandparents’ house in the country was a target for people who’d decided to dump their unwanted pets. More times than I can count, I remembered a bewildered pet sitting by the side of the road, waiting for a loved person who would never return.
These houses felt the same way to me – as though they wondered what they had done wrong, why their families had left, feeling cold and lonely as the days passed.
I started my car and put it in gear, backing down the driveway and pulling out onto the deserted highway. On an impulse, I tooted the horn as I drove away; I remember, thanks for the memories. So long.