You Can’t Go Home Again

The author Thomas Wolfe said it many years ago and it’s still true. On this street in Greenwich, Connecticut, between the gray house on the left (peeking out from behind the trees) and the white house on the right is an empty piece of land. There used to be a little house there and when I was very young – from birth to age six – I lived in that house.

I don’t remember a lot about it, except for a general sense of where the rooms were and a few details about the kitchen, which was large compared to the rest of the house, had flowered wallpaper, and had windows that faced the back yard. I also remember a glassed-in porch and the color of the outside, which was red. There was a stone wall in the back yard that I think my father might have built. He was very handy. A weeping willow hung over the wall and I used to grab the branches and swing on them. My dad rigged up a tire swing by throwing one end of a rope over a branch of the willow and I used to swing on that too. As a kid, it seemed as though our back yard went on forever.

Over the past few decades I’d driven by the house from time to time when I was in Connecticut and it became abundantly clear that the yard wasn’t big at all. Not from an adult’s perspective anyway. Now it’s all yard. The property went into foreclosure several years ago and watching the house’s slow deterioration was sad. On my most recent drive-by I saw that the house had been razed, causing me to have one of those “Oh, wow” moments, accompanied by a skirmish in my stomach. I’m happy someone finally bought the property and will be building a new house there. I won’t be going back to look at it though.