Places We Lost Along The Way
A few months ago, I had a dream. I dream most nights, but even though I usually remember them when I first wake up, they tend to slip away some time between rolling out of bed and leaving the house. This one, though, has stuck with me.
I had gone back to my home town to visit an old friend at the house he lived in when we were kids. Everything was more or less the way I remembered it, and we chatted for a while--about what, I don't know. Eventually we wandered out into the yard, and I stood by the hammock at the edge of the property and looked out across the valley at the hills on the other side. I just looked and smiled for a few moments when I remembered that he and his mother had moved out of that house a long time ago, and suddenly I was crying. "I never thought I'd get to see this view again," I thought to myself.
I woke up almost immediately after that, but that feeling of having lost something stuck with me for most of the rest of the day. Since then, it's come back to my mind every few days, and I often find myself feeling an intense sadness that I probably won't really get to see that yard again.
Not too long after that I stumbled across Ze Frank's Childhook Walk project, in which he asks you to imagine a walk you used to take as a child, then try to recreate it in your mind, possibly with the help of Google Street View. It reminded me so much of the dream that I knew I had to try to see what Street View had for me. Of course, my friend's old house was well back from the road, so there was no chance I'd actually be able to see the view from his yard. But I was able to find the front of his driveway:
I must have walked up and down that driveway five hundred times over the years. Maybe more. It's strange, sometimes, to think that that's all behind me now. But he doesn't live there anymore, nor does his mother, nor anyone I know. There's no reason I'd go there, and no reason for whoever lives there now to let me on the property if I did.
It's been probably fifteen years since they moved out, and until a few months ago I never thought anything of it. After all, people move, things change, and life goes on. I guess that's why it surprised me that I reacted the way I did in my dream; I hadn't realized that I still cared so much. It makes sense when I think about it, though. A lot of what I remember about myself at that age goes back to that house and that yard, and while I'll obviously never be able to visit those days again, somehow being also unable to visit the place makes the loss more poignant.
I tend to the maudlin, I suppose.
I think most of us have places like this, places that were once really important that we'll never go back to. Take a minute to think about what that place is for you. Maybe you can find it in Street View. Maybe you have a photo of your own. Maybe you only have your memories. What did it mean to you then, and what does it mean now? Tell me about it, if you don't mind. Share a picture, if you can.