How Attached Are You to the Homes of Your Past?

Is it unusual not to feel any particular attachment to, say, the house you grew up in? Maybe it’s because we moved so frequently and the houses we were in seldom belonged to the family, but I can’t say I feel any particular attachment to the houses, apartments, and neighborhoods of my past. I can look back fondly on some of the places I’ve lived as an adult, but it’s not like I ever stayed long enough to put down roots. Now that I own a house – or slightly over 20% of a house, I guess – my plan is to stay put barring any amazing job offers across the country or natural disasters. Which means my children will spend their entire childhoods in this one wee house, in this one suburban coastal neighborhood.

Will my daughter and my future children feel a strong attachment to our house and our town, our beach and our neighbors, looking back fondly once they’ve moved away?

Out with the old?

I don’t even know if their memories will be accurate. As with all things, I can imagine that there’s a tendency to view the past through rose colored glasses, so a house that was falling apart becomes charming and an apartment that was cold and drafty becomes full of character and quirks. I can already feel myself doing just that with the apartment in Brooklyn that was in a hub of gang activity and surrounded by who knows what else. The finish on the floor was flaking off and would give me splinters. There were critters. But the view from my windows and the fire escape was amazing and there was a shop nearby that made the most amazing fresh doughnuts and another shop that sold fried chicken sandwiches on sweet buns for a buck. It was hell and it was heavenly, both, and I’d never want to go back to it.

Tell me about some of the homes of your past… do any of them still tug at your heartstrings and make you feel wistful?

3 Responses to “How Attached Are You to the Homes of Your Past?”

  1. Elysabeth March 22, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    I love the house I grew up in and was SO upset when my parents moved out (I was 22-ish). Beyond being very attached to the house and unable to imagine what it would be like for someone else to live there, I really felt a sense of betrayal when my parents moved from our house in the city of Milwaukee to one (a ranch, too, gah!) in a stupid suburb. I felt like my cred was slipping!

    Since then, the owners who bought the house defaulted and lost our precious home, but someone else recently bought it, modernized it, added an additional bathroom, and 2 more bedrooms. It makes me happy that there is new life in there, and that it’s gained some extra rooms, to boot!

  2. La Petite Acadienne March 22, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    We also moved around a lot, so I don’t really have a “childhood home”.

    However, there was one house I loved, that we lived in from when I was 9 until I was 12. It was a big, old house. Hard to heat. The basement was wet. But oh, there were things that made up for it. My window overlooked the garage roof. And next to the garage roof was a big oak tree. So when I wanted to escape my older sister, I’d climb out the window, across the roof, and scamper down the tree. And the best part? The house was at the entrance to a very well-appointed campground, and I was allowed to use all the facilities. So for all intents and purposes, my backyard contained a swimming pool, two playgrounds, a canteen (with pinball machines), and a lake with swan-shaped paddleboats.

    What a great place to be a kid.

  3. lali March 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    Ten years ago I helped by sister’s family and my parents move out of the old family home where we had all been born and grew up in (over 40 years in a rented house!). While we tried to keep ourselves together, we were bawling as we packed up the last box in my parents’ room where our heights were recorded yearly on the doorjamb, and made a final tour of the rooms to see if we had forgotten to pack anything. The three-bedroom one-bath house had, through the years, been home to my parents and their three kids, two grandmothers, a cousin, a son-in-law and a grandson. We were crowded but the house was always welcoming — as could be attested by the fact that all the neighborhood kids used to hang around in our house even if theirs were bigger and fancier. But through the decades the neighborhood declined, and the family finally decided it was time to call it quits. All these years later, none of us dares to drive through the old neighborhood for fear of seeing what state the old house is in. We prefer to keep the memory of the house fresh — white clapboards, red roof, the tiny pocket garden in front with the white iron garden chairs where the neighborhood ladies would hang out as afternoon faded, and the bougainvillas which covered the front of the house in fuschia and orange blooms. My sister and I both took cuttings of the vines to our respective homes where their flamboyant excess give us a touch of home.