In many ways I now find myself a stranger in the town in which I grew up. I've been away for well over 20 years and each time I return I see fewer and fewer familiar faces. More times than not that unfamiliarity is due to the aging process - on their part, of course, certainly not mine. (BOOM! CRASH! SHHHHPPTTTT - Yikes! Where did that lightning come from?)
Some things change for the good. Prime example - the "Tea Room" on Main Street. What used to be an ugly little dry cleaners, then a real estate office and several other venues before Karen and Linda took it over, is now one half "White Knight" rentals (wedding, parties, reunions) and the other half the most adorable tea room ever. They serve elegant sandwiches, soups, and salads and the best sweet tea in the world. (I loved the grilled cheese and could have had five more.)
Some changes aren't necessarily good or bad - they just happen because that's what life does - changes - whether we want it to or not.
This was my grandparents house built in the 1800's.
By observation it still seems sturdy, sits in a perfect location on the outskirts of town and retains a quaint charm typical of most farm houses. Chuck, the current owner (who purchased it shortly after my grandmothers death in 1997), after a complete interior renovation, allowed moi the grand tour. The changes were a breath of fresh air to say the least. Due to aging owners and their parsimonious nature the house hadn't been renovated since it's initial construction. (They didn't even see the need to have indoor plumbing until I came along and was so afraid there were spiders in the outhouse that I'd try to 'hold it' all weekend). I can't sing Chucks praises enough for breathing life into that old house and reviving the girl to her former glory.
So what's the prob, Kath? Glad you asked.
You see, when I left that day I never had to see those 'inside changes' again. When I would do my once-a-year-drive-by I could still visualize Granddads Borateam cast iron mules pulling the wagon, perched atop the shelf above Grandma's antique buffet. And I swear I could almost smell the fresh-from-the-oven apple pie cooling on the kitchen cabinet.
Once outside changes start happening it's hard to go back and remember what things used to look like. Quick -do you remember Kirstie Alley skinny? Or Star Jones fat? I didn't think so, which is exactly my point!
So how long before I am no longer able to 'see' the tree whose leaves provided shade for the porch in the summer and whose spindly branches with only a whisper of a breeze would scratch the roof, sending my 7-year-old self running to the safety of my grandmothers arms? And what about the tree that sat tall and proud to the right, just off the kitchen giving Grandma a perfect view of her tow-headed granddaughter swinging to and fro on the swing Grandad had made and securely fastened around its thickest branch?
Some might say that I'm 'overthinking' this, but I'd have to disagree. You see, it's already started to happen. As we drove away I kept thinking, "What is it about the barn? Nothing has been done, but nothing is the same." I studied the picture the whole plane ride home when it suddenly dawned on me. The white wooden fence!
Granddad always maintained a beautiful white fence around the barnyard to keep the horses and cattle in. If I had a dollar for every time I teetered my (younger and smaller) backside on that fence while I watched the hay crew or blacksmith or milk truck I'd be rich. How could I ever forget the white fence?
Change. Evolution. Alteration. Modification, variation or conversion. Call it whatever you want but it's always going to happen whether we want it or not. As the old saying goes, 'the only thing that never changes is change itself.'
So, in retrospect, I think I'll not drive by my grandparents house anymore because right now if I close my eyes, I can still picture a beautiful summer day, grandmas flowers in bloom all throughout the yard, her sweet smile through the kitchen window getting closer and farther way, closer and farther away, my tiny legs straight out then tucked under as I go higher and faster. And if I really, really try I can smell just a hint of that hot, homemade apple pie aroma winding it's way out the window, slowly tantalizing the senses of an innocent, tow-headed young girl who won't realize for a very long time that her world will never be this perfect again.