I just tried to find the house I used to live in in Hanover, Maryland, back in the late 70’s using google’s program “streetview”. With this program you can plug in any address and get a 360 degree view, up and down the street that you choose.
Anderson avenue doesn’t look anything like I remembered it. The street looks more like a golf-cart path than an actual road that a car would travel on. I couldn’t find the steep hill I used to coast down on my bike. Maybe it was there and it wasn’t so steep. I couldn’t find the yard where I made my mother take me to look at the neighbor’s new puppies. Muffly, my first golden retriever, followed me home after Mom had said no and broke my heart. After she realized she had followed us home, she conceded to the will of a whiny 6 year old and said yes. I couldn’t find the field that Kevin and I used to run around and play on. Thirty two years of development will do that to a place.
I remember my parents trying to renovate the place; it was over 100 years old at the time we bought it. It was one of those places that moving a mattress up stairs required a structural engineer and a mathematician. I remember them reinforcing the ceiling in the living room with railroad ties, and then the whole mess falling down on them. I also seem to recall when dad was up in the attic cleaning or something else stupid and having a hornet stinging his butt and the ensuing throwing of objects and uttering of obscenities. I think that was the first time I’d ever heard the “F” word…and wondering “what’s he telling grandma to do? She’s not even here.”
This morning I dropped off Hokie at the groomer’s and she immediately sensed I was going to leave her behind. She started jumping up on me like she does when she thinks she’s done something wrong. I call it her “apology jump”. It reminded me of a story my mother told me after I got back from a trip to Florida to see my grandparents. The whole time I was gone, she said, Muffly slept alongside my bed, waiting for me. I remember clear as day watching cartoons with her in the morning before the bus came; she’d cram herself in next to me on the red cushy chair we had in the living room. Each morning to wake me up Dad will yell to Muffly “Sick him! Sick him!!” and she’d run upstairs and pounce on me. I’d sit up and rub my eyes to free them of the slobber, and I loved every minute of it.
I couldn’t find my old house tonight, unless it was behind that mass of 15 foot hedges at the end of the road. Maybe our house was still behind those hedges, maybe it had been torn down and replaced.
I’ll just remember what I can and leave it at that. I don’t need to prove to myself that it exists now, because it always will. The view from inside is better.