Sunday, September 25, 2011

Living in the City that You Grew up in

Sometimes it’s difficult living in the city that you grew up in.

Every place where I used to play; the homes that I lived in; the apartments that I moved into and moved out of, all of it just comes and goes without any real stop or significance. I lived in those places. I should have strong memories about what I did there and the people I interacted with.
But I don’t.
It seems strange, almost reprehensible.

I remember an episode of “Murphy Brown” in which the main character revisited her childhood home. When she asked the current occupants if she could visit inside, they told her “No”. Of course, she was undeterred and tried to force her way into the home through the garden at the front of the home. The current occupants called the police, and Murphy Brown scurried off with her friend before she got caught.
Why do people want to go back to their childhood homes? What is it about an old building or a home with a different family that encourages adult children to recapture the memories of growing up?
Perhaps they want to hide. Life on life’s terms has exacted a heavy toll, and they want to retreat, to return to a time when someone else took care of everything, including the consequences of their mistakes. Perhaps they want to remember when someone cared about them, regardless of what they did for better or worse. People just want to be loved for who they are, and since nowadays an employee may manage to keep his job only to the extent that he does a good job, or pleases the right people; in short, it has every thing to do with someone else’s shaky, unforeseeable perception. Yet in the distant past of childhood, in that home long-since abandoned, perhaps they can rekindle the unconditional love of a parent, the security of a warm home and ready bed prepared by a caring heart, one who did not expect anything in return but that the child willingly enjoyed what was provided for him.

Tonight, I walk briskly past houses that I lived in. I cannot call them homes, since I no longer live in them. Even the apartments, despite their renewal, are former living quarters. What do I do with them now? They have no meaning to me, at least to me and everyone else that I know.

It is difficult to live in a city that you grew up in. There are so many memories, so many that they have less meaning, diminished impact with every passing day. Everyone is busy with their demands; they don’t care about the first home that I grew up in, how I learned to walk, or how I cried alone in my room sometimes because I felt so isolated and did not know how to break through. I can never share the fun of watching TV with my family, or wondering if Dad would take us out to eat that night since Mom was working. These little things become even more insignificant not just because they are such pedestrian memories, but because they become more remote with every passing day that another family creates its own memories within that same house, or that a realtor decides to sell the home, or an investor decides to demolish it in order to build more properties.

It is difficult to live in the city that you grew up in, because it means that you are also growing old there, too. From day to day nothing changes; only when a year or more has gone by, with the sudden recognition of the passage of time, then you realize what has passed; you also realize there is no way to alter what has transpired.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, how times have changed for me! I am happy to live in the city I was born and raised in. I would not have it any other way. Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me the privilege of living in Torrance, CA!