Thursday, February 14, 2008

Of Past Homes...


Do you ever come across a passage or sentence in a book that makes you pause and think? (Silly question. Of course you do.)

This one did it for me last night:

“Perhaps it was a truth of life that the house you mourned was the one where you found yourself.”

Songs Without Words – Ann Packer

That line hit home – so to speak. I believe the sentiment expressed to be true.

Growing up, I lived in seven different homes. Of those seven, one house haunts me still. Literally. I have dreams about it.

That is the home where I truly became conscious of my “self” – of the world beyond my childish dreams and concerns. And while I have many precious memories of my life there, it is the place where I lost the innocence of childhood.

I discovered that the world was not Beth’s playground.

It was not just sticks and stones and words that could hurt me. The world had other weapons.

So, yes, I did “find myself” there. And I do mourn it.

The house still exists. I think it best I visit only through memories. My mind (with its amazing powers of healing and protection) has made that the safest way to journey to that particular place in my past.

13 comments:

La La said...

Wow. Seven homes seems like a lot. Did you go to seven different schools, too?

I only lived in two, but my grandma's home was very significant place, too.
One that I dream about, too.

Minnesota Matron said...

Lovely provocative post. I had many homes, too. The one that shaped me? Something the neighbors called the Chicken Coops -- low income housing units near a canning factory. I grew up poor but in this house-- a tiny government owned shack---was the defining moment. I can't tell you how clearly I remember the 9/10/11 year old self who lived there, who looked out her window into a massive weeping willow tree and cried, too.

Still. I miss that house. Because it shaped me.

oreneta said...

We moved many many times as well, and yes there was one home that still feels most like the house I grew up in, partially because we lived there for longer than most of the others, from when I was ten till I was around 20, which I guess is a fairly defining age.

Where do you think your kid's house would be? Have you moved much?

Thomas said...

I moved to Seattle in 2005 after living in the same house for 18 years. I have moved three times since.

Beth said...

la la:
Only six different schools!
I hope the dreams you have of your grandma's home are good ones.

minnesota matron:
We were quite young to experience those defining moments, weren't we?
There was a maple tree outside my window - and some tears shed there, too.

oreneta:
This house would "define" my kids - they've lived here for almost 21 years.
(Prior to this house and following my previous 7 moves, four others.)

thomas:
I envy you that 18 years in one house.
Sounds like you're having trouble settling somewhere in Seattle. (Perhaps??)

Mrs. G. said...

I spent most of my childhood movie, and I get how some homes (and went on with them) mark you. Beautifully written post, Beth.

Gary said...

Yes, we live in houses...and then they live in us.

A few years ago I flew to Toronto, rented a car and drove to Michigan to visit a childhood home that I last saw at 13 years old. It was so strong in my dreamlife and memories that I had to go. I spent two days there, and the current owner allowed me to wander the house and property. I also walked to my old school, swam in my old swimming hole and looked for an old friend (really old now, like me!). He was there and we had dinner.

I didn't remove the house from my psche, I just visited both levels at once for a couple of days...

Beth said...

mrs. g.:
I don't know if 7 moves is a lot (and another 4 later) - I do know the experience made me appreciate being able to "stay put" in this house for so many years.

gary:
"....and then they live in us."
I like that.
Despite your story, I still don't think I could go back. My sister did - was invited in but couldn't move past the front hallway. The memories were overwhelming.

Beth said...

wow....that was so true....I dream about old houses I've lived in too, one in particular....and a few I've NEVER lived in, but feel as if I have, cuz I dream about them all. the. time. Same house.

Must have been a past life....

Eileen said...

Beth,
This post is beautiful, so thought provoking!! Growing up I lived in 6 different homes, but I always dream about my Great Aunt Pauline's huge Victorian home. I spent so many weekends there, as an escape from my house. She has no children and spoiled me, like I was her own child. Her huge house, with all its room, was so interesting to me, and I use to wonder about, thinking about life, what use to be, who use to live in the house, the special talks I had with my Aunt (we would cuddle on the couch watching tv, sleep in her huge feather bed talking about life, her growing up years) it was so very, very special to me. I remember that house in detail. What is said now, the neighborhood it is in, is now in such decline, probably the worse in the city. I made a mistake of driving by once, and lets just say it was a huge mistake.
Yet, in my mind, dreams too, the significance of that house lingers on and on.
Your post just really got me on this path, and I think I'm going to journal more about it.Why is some houses still speak to us, I didn't even live in this one?
XOXO

Beth said...

beth:
I have a recurring dream about a house I never lived in, too. It has lots of rooms and a huge closet with secret passages. My analysis? I'm either "searching" for something or need a bigger closet!

eileen:
Sounds like that house is a place of wonderful memories and (as you state) was an escape for you. It still is - in your dreams.
The mind is an amazing thing, isn't it?

Sherry said...

That's a lot of homes to live in, but I'm in complete agreement -- remember it in your mind -- don't go and look. It is never the same and it feels "weird".

I loved Ann Packer's "Songs Without Words" - thought it was brilliant! Oh gee, are you surprised??! No? Didn't think so!! ;)

Beth said...

sherry:
"Mind visits" only - for sure.
Not surprised at all about your take on that book! I finished it - and loved it, too.