The house I grew up in is gone – well, it still stands, but for all practical purposes it is gone for me. The townhouse we moved into when I was 14, where we lived through my highschool years, Mom sold a year or so after I left for university. The house she bought then she took several years to fix up, then sold it. Dad? He lived in an apartment, then in a townhouse, then he and Janice moved into a lovely house.
So, when I go ‘home’ it isn’t really a physical home I am talking about. I can’t sit at the kitchen table I grew up eating meals at, I don’t sleep in my childhood bed, even the pictures on the walls have changed. But I still go home. Location might be the it-thing in real estate, but it’s not in my feelings of home.
Still, objects have the ability to trigger memories. And Mom and Dad have both saved lots from years gone by.
At the Lake, Cameron plays with the Fisher Price castle I had as a kid. Mom saved the beds, the horses and carriages, the knights, the King, Queen, Prince and Princess, and the dragon too. She saved the Fisher Price Sesame Street set, and the backyard patio set too. I wonder how many hours I spent playing with those as a child? I see them sitting in the living room at the Lake, but I also feel them sitting on the red-patterned floor of our old basement, or the original brown carpeting in the living room. Favourite books were saved, and are now in the kids’ reading stack here. I read them to Cameron, but hear Mom’s or Dad’s voice.
Tonight we crept down into the basement after Cameron went to sleep, and rummaged through a few boxes. I found two treasures I’ll be taking back with me – a pyrex soufflé dish (for all those soufflés I make) with several ramekins, and a cookie press. I remember the scent of a baking soufflé, and the warnings to not jump or slam doors. A few years ago Nana gave me a cookie press for Christmas, but it was missing two designs I remember from my childhood, two cookie shapes I associate with Christmas and would love to have. Mom sent me the disks from her old press … and they didn’t fit my new one. I’ve checked. They don’t make those designs any more. So, now I have the original cookie press to fit those disks and I can make those cookies I remember so fondly. Yes, they’ll taste the same as in any other shape (I have the recipe I remember too), but they’ll just be better.
We then sorted through a box of saved paper scraps, ranging from the early 70s to the mid eighties. Crochet designs, craft ideas, knitting patterns. How to make 108 different decorative pillows for any room. A multi-purpose brick BBQ for your back yard. Make a lawn chair for $25. A bevy of bags – handbags for every fashion. Almost everything went into a lovely blue bag for recycling, but not everything. Letters from Nana from 197something went back in the box, as did letters from the girl in Honduras my family ‘sponsored’, and Mom’s travel diary from our trip west in 1974. I’m saving a collection of game ideas for kids that I think Mom typed up in her teaching years, some Tunisian crocheting patterns (don’t laugh, it’s easy and turns out pretty nice … and have you noticed that what was fashionable in the early 80s is popular now? Thank whatever gods may be that this doesn’t include the makeup or hair.).
What was interesting was that this paper-sorting thing was a trip down memory lane for me. The physical rummaging was mirrored by an emotional and memory rummaging in my head. The crafts? I remember doing them. I remember receiving them as gifts. Doll patterns, cut-out games, granny-square pillows. We sat in a living room that did not exist when I was a child, and yet I was in some ways sitting in my childhood living room, bedroom, basement, and kitchen.