The house I grew up in, in suburban Adelaide, was a modest one, but comfortable. It held so many memories: my first birthday, riding bikes down the street in summer, swinging on the trees. I remember the sound of the front door as it creaked, and the slam of the back door and how it never really closed.
We moved when I was 15 to a smaller home closer to the city and I missed our house in Mary Street. I missed how it smelt and the little drawings I’d done on the walls that Dad had to paint over.
So you can imagine my delight when I visited a few months ago for the first time in years. I brought my children along with me and got in my friend’s car. I was feeling excited to show my kids where I grew up and the big tree out the back I’d always talked about.
But as we approached, my heart sank.
I approached where the house should have been, and checked the intersecting street sign – Luther Court – it was definitely where our house was located. But the house was not there. What was once a brick house with a crooked fence was now an empty block of land. I didn’t understand. Where was our house?
I felt tears well up in my eyes as I sat in the car. My kids were trying to ask what happened and I couldn’t tell them.
I rang my sister and said “Mary Street is gone”! And she let out a sigh. “They knocked it down during the GFC in 2008. They wanted to split the block of land but they went bust. I didn’t want to tell you”. As the baby of the family, it was understandable that I wasn’t told, but I was hurt. I wish I had known so I didn’t have to see what I’d just seen, an empty block of land with no tree and no fence. It was like seeing someone you love vanish before your eyes.
It felt like all the memories I had now had a black mark on them. Knowing that you can never replicate those memories or touch that tree or even smell the air in the yard is heartbreaking.
I wonder if other people have had a similar thing happen to them, where they revisited their family home to find it looked nothing like it did in their minds. Does it tarnish the memories? Or does it make them fonder knowing that it was just a moment in time?
Have you ever been to visit your old home? What happened? Did it turn out like this?