lizardek's obiter dictum lizardek Home Now Then Friends Info Ek Family
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Wherever we go, the older we get, the more we are living in the past. Everything around us reminds us of it, whether we realize it or not. Every house you pass, every building, every street you drive down, or road you take is a path, a place, a memory of something from your former self, your former life. And when you live somewhere for a long time, it's even more true. Every rock, fence, tree, garden, has a history imprinted upon you.

That's the house the twins lived in, Martin's former best friends, when he was young. And that one is where Karin's first boyfriend from daycare days still lives, though he's no longer a child, and neither is she. That development used to be fields, where horses grazed. The fields used to glow yellow from the rapeseed blooming every May.

The building by the little traffic circle? It was a store once, where we stopped nearly every day and bought milk or bread or picked up the mail. Then it was vacant, then it was another store (that I never stepped foot in), then someone's home, and now? It's a brewery/pub. Every house has a history, a "used to" story: that one used to be a gas station. That one used to be a bank and then a café. It's someone's home now, but I know what the inside looks like. I know where the bank vault is. I wonder if they kept the vault door.

That smooth slope of grass used to be a wild tangle of lupines. I sometimes seem to see it, though it's only a trick of my mind's eye, when I pass by. I still mourn the loss of the lupines.

Every place is infected with memory. Infused with the ghosts of people who used to live there, who have moved or grown or passed away. Even the memory of cats who once came to visit can haunt you.

It's sharper sometimes, that peripheral impression, when you return to a place where you haven't been for a long time. The facade of former haunts veil the present. That's where I used to play, with my siblings and my cousins, when we were small. That's where my grandparents used to live. See the little iron door where the milk was delivered? The apricot tree in the yard is gone. The lilies of the valley in the tiny corridor between the houses are gone; so are the morning glories on the back fence and the army of small Papillon dogs next door, but the huge screened-in porch is still there. That's where my mother went to school. That's the big street we weren't allowed to cross. It doesn't look so big now. But it's all still there, in your head, like double vision.

Every place you go, you're laying a trail of memory. Everyone you meet, every neighbor you greet, every home you visit, every school you attend or office you work in. The bus route you take each day for years; the place where your choir practices weekly, the restaurant you and your husband frequented so often when you first moved here, that the waiters knew you by name and the chefs started making your favorite dish before you'd even ordered. We smear the present with the past and vice versa.

Every new trip to an old place causes an eruption of remember whens, probably much to our children's disinterest. You're seeing the past overlaid on the present. "I don't remember that place!" or "That's new, where did that come from?" It's an effrontery, almost, that places dare to change, the same way people do, the same way memories do. The details waver and shimmer; all we know is what it used to be. It used to be and now it is, and then will be a used-to-be again.
mood: contemplative
music: Cajsa Stina Åkerström—Kärleken Finns Överallt

From Megsie

What a wonderful post, Liz. So insightful, and true! I drove Nicholas to hockey last week, to the city where I grew up. It is just the next city over, so it isn't like I am not close all the time, but I hadn't been through there for a while. I ended up driving down the main street I used to drive all the way to my old house. It is a different color now. I wanted to park my car and peek through the windows just to see what it was like inside. It was weird though. All these years since I have lived there, and it was just recently that the paint changed. That made it feel different. And the school across the street planted trees in the middle of the field, and didn't ask me! Ha!


Re: From Megsie

How dare they! The effrontery! haha!

I find myself cataloging such things as I walk or drive...that's where so-and-so used to live, and that's the house of one of the kids' daycare providers and that's the house that used to have barky dogs...maybe I just need to get a life!

Oh Liz, this is a terrific post and something that I've been thinking about as well lately. I'm now starting to appreciate the life I've lived, the places I've passed through and the ripple effect I leave imprinted on people and places I've been a part of. And how they have helped shaped the person that I am now.

Beautiful writing!

So many places we've been, lived, passed through. So many memories webbing the entire world. Weird to think it's the same for everyone, but that everyone's place memories are different.


Aaaaah yes, the memories and seeing again the old places -really wonderful and sad at the same time. I remember your Aunt Kathie saying how sorry she was to finally drive by her childhood home. It was in a "bad" condition in a now "bad" neighborhood and she decided it was not a good idea to go back (anywhere). My Mom and I stopped again at my childhood home a few months ago - she was glad to see it and remember their old friends, but I noticed the bars on some of the windows and signs saying "keep out". The trees were much bigger and hid much of the house, but still nice to know that the area was still well-kept. There are too many of homes, places I lived that I'll never have a chance to visit again, but the memories are really good! Love, Lizardmom

It's weird to think that there are so many places that are still solid in memory that we'll never see again.


Maybe it's for the best -we can remember the best times that way. Love, Lizardmom

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I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

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