Sunday, August 16, 2009

Home Sweet Home

One thing we did while back east was to take a drive around Long Island, NY. We saw a couple of places my mom lived when she was little, and the house my parents lived in when I was born. I didn’t live in Long Island very long – shortly after I was born my parents moved to New Jersey and then Virginia.

The picture, taken by my grandparents in 1952, is of the house my mom lived in from the time she was twelve until she got married. It was easy to find – the exterior of the house has hardly changed.

Luckily when the current owners of the house caught us snooping around outside, they invited us in. We explained what we were doing there, of course. They were just as curious to know what the house used to look like as we were to see what it looked like now. It was built in the 1920’s. It had a fabulous spiral staircase and a big sunken tub in the upstairs bath. The stairs are intact, but the tub had been replaced. With help from termites, it was probably in danger of sinking all the way to the first floor.

I enjoyed seeing the old places, but by the time we’d driven by the third house on my itinerary, the kids’ interest started to wane. While they argued in the back seat over some detail about Indiana Jones, I completely forgot to drive by the church where my parents got married. I’ll have to save that snapshot for another time.

One of these days I’d love to show the kids where I grew up in Virginia, even though my childhood home isn’t there anymore. My parents learned at a Department of Transportation meeting that plans to widen the main road included the demolition of their house. That little surprise hastened their plans to move back to Long Island.

In New York I have a house to go to, but few childhood memories. In Virginia I have plenty of memories but no house upon which to look back. Neither place really feels like home.

What’s your definition of home? Is it the place where you grew up? The place you live now? To me, it’s the place you can’t wait to return to when you are away from it.

It’s good to be home.


Lily Cate said...

My parents moved out of my childhood home about 30 seconds after I left for college- we'd been there 16 years!
Their new house is very nice, and comfortable, but it doesn't feel like home.
My grandmother still lives in the house where my mother grew up. It has that same unreal 20's spanish inspiried architecture that you can't find in our part of the country anymore.
I'd say, since Mr. Cate and I got our first place, home is wherever he is.
I know. Sappy. But true.

LW said...

I grew up on a farm not far from where I am now; it is about 25 minutes away. Although close to me, I have not been by in awhile. I find it very sad to go back, the land is full of houses, and the old barn is full of building equipment. The large barn with its beautiful chestnut beams has long been taken down to
suit the fancy of the very rich.

Home for me now is here in my gray saltbox with its welcoming red door. Home is with my dh, kids and
five Miniature donkeys. Someday we will leave this place and I know my kids will be sad. I envision them doing just what you just did, driving by and saying that is where I use to play.


adrienne said...

Lily - Eh, some of the best things are sappy!
I think for a while after I moved I still thought of my parent's house as home, but it changes when you have a family of your own.
Your grandmother's house sounds interesting!

LW - In a way I'm glad my childhood home was torn down. We were the only family to ever live there. I think it would be surreal to see someone else there.
BTW, I'd love to see pictures of your five miniature donkeys!

Ara Burklund said...

Wow! How cool to be invited inside! Neither or my parents lives in a house I grew up in, so the closest thing I have these days is my in-laws' house, where my husband grew up. Since I lived with them for a couple of years, and I met them when I was eighteen, it's kind of odd, but their house is the place that most feels like "home" to me.

Vodka Mom said...

there;s no place like home, Dorothy. no place like home.

Angela said...

I'm so glad you found the house - it has character!

adrienne said...

Ara - Now that sounds like an interesting story!

Vodka Mom - I could've used a pair of ruby slippers last week, if it would have spared me a crummy flight home...

Angela - I'm glad we found it, too. I haven't seen it since I was very little, but I still remembered it. Maybe that's why English Tudor is my favorite. :)

MG Higgins said...

I never wanted to live in an old Victorian (knowing it would be a money pit) but that's where I ended up. Now I'm glad, because there's something about the character of a really old house that makes it feel homey.

BabYpose said...

Home is where the loved ones are.The house is beautiful and built in 1920s, wow.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

That's a great story about visiting your mom's house. How nice those folks were to invite you in!

It's such a treasure to be able to visit the site of memories. My parents built a house right beside the house in which I grew up. Every time I visit, I wish I could walk through the old house. Maybe I'll ask the neighbors next time!

Kelly said...

What a beautiful home! How wonderful you got to tour it again, too!
I live only five or ten minutes away from my childhood home so this area feels like home. But my current house (that I have lived in for ten years) feels more like home to me than the one I grew up in.

Anne Spollen said...

I love that house!

Home is wherever I am with my kids.
I only wish when I got here (we just got back from vacation, too) the laundry dragon didn't greet me...

King of New York Hacks said...

Home is where the tornado takes you.

adrienne said...

MG - I love the character of those old Victorians, too, but it's probably best we don't live in one. We are not really DIYers when it comes to big projects.

BabYpose - I agree!

Becky - Wow, right next door? I'm surprised you haven't knocked on the door yet. The curiousity would get to me!

Kelly - I always had an itch to get away, but I can see the advantage of staying in your home town...especially when the kids are little and you need a babysitter. :)

Anne - Oh gosh, yes...home is where the heart and a big ol' pile of laundry is.

King of NY Hacks - I don't think that's what Dorothy said.

Keri Mikulski said...

Gorgeous house. :) And what a wonderful trip..

Home to me is a feeling. We never moved during my childhood, so I lived in the same home until I was twenty-four. Whenever I visit my parents, it definitely feels like home.

And our house here at the Jersey shore feels like home. After a long day, I walk in the door and completely relax. :)

The homes in Long Island are gorgeous, aren't they?? :)

Suzanne Casamento said...

Great question. Great post. My family moved a lot when I was a kid. I used to refer to my trips from LA to Jersey as "going home," but after my parents moved out of state, it simply became going to Jersey." And it doesn't happen often anymore.

I like your definition of home being the place you can't wait to get back to.

adrienne said...

Keri - I think house viewing has always been part of my visits to LI - the old Victorians, the beach mansions, the post-modern architecture - it's all fun to look at.

Suzanne - I did the same thing...up until my parents moved, I referred to a trip to Virginia as going "back home."

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

I still visit my hometown as my brothers and brother-in-law are in the same town.It is a small town but a lot of memories are so alive. Now, home is where my family is - in the city.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

No, you can't go back, can you? We moved every 4 years when I was growing up and my parents have continued to move at said pace. My home is here now. I have nowhere to go back to.

msprimadonna67 said...

How cool it must have been to visit your mom's home! When my sisters and I traveled back to Oklahome several years back, we decided to seek out my dad's childhood home--the home where we spent many Christmas vacations. Both grandparents had since passed away, and the new owners were living in the home. They were not at all amused to see us staring at the house, and refused our request to even take a picture of the outside of the house. (I took one anyway.) They seemed to secretive and anxious about us being there that we decided perhaps they were in the witness relocation program or were felons on the lam. Ya never know.

adrienne said...

Donna - How funny! It's a shame some people feel they have to be so guarded. Glad you had the chance to see it, anyway.