Years and years.

I had to make a quick trip to Columbus Wednesday. (Brother in hospital, not immediately life-threatening, a couple of complications to iron out, no further comment.)

The complications ironed out early, so I thought I’d kill an hour revisiting my old neighborhoods before heading home, particularly the house I grew up in. I don’t have any of my own photos of it, but that’s why Google Street View and Zillow exist. This is how I remember it:

Very idealized photo, admittedly — color-corrected, mostly, maybe a little bit of wide-angle lens trickery. But it’s essentially the house I lived in, with three tall firs in the yard, and a screened porch on the east side. It was always a big deal when the porch opened for the season; Columbus Tent & Awning would come and erect the stored awnings, we’d sweep the winter’s dust, put the furniture out and spend summer evenings there, avoiding the mosquitos but enjoying the breeze. My dad would watch baseball games there. It had a tatami-type mat on the cement floor. Nice.

My parents sold in 1995 for about $160,000, maybe, as I recall.

A few years later, this, via Google Street View:

RIP, screened porch. I guess it couldn’t last in today’s MOAR SPAAAAAACE housing market. Maybe it became someone’s home office, or a play room, or something. The tradeoff? They added back that window on the second floor, assuming there was one at some time; it always puzzled me. That weird painted patch was basically right on the wall between the two front bedrooms. And I approve of the new frame for the front door. So I can live with that.

This was yesterday:

I have to think — I desperately think — this is just after the latest renovation, and they still intend to add back the shutters and certainly do something with the landscaping. All three front-yard trees are gone, with one anemic sapling now the sole arboreal occupant of the front yard. But I cannot lie: I kinda hate it. So. Much. Brick. When we moved in there was a lot of climbing English ivy on the house, which my parents tore down for the usual reasons. But this pile could use a little. It could use something, that’s for sure.

Now I really miss the porch. And I don’t even live there.

By the way, for those wondering about that light standard rising out of the back yard? My childhood home backs up to a middle-school athletic field. Before what was then the “new” high-school got its own gridiron, they played there, and one of my Saturday-morning jobs was cleaning up the trash dropped from the spectator stands into our yard — cups and popcorn boxes, mostly.

The last time it sold, this was a $610,000 house, and with this new work, I’m guessing the next sale price will be much higher. It’s the American dream to be priced out of the neighborhood your parents managed on two modest incomes.

And if you’d like to host me on your psychiatric couch, here’s the house I live in now:

Yeah, kinda familiar-looking, ain’a?

The apartment I lived in after moving out of my parents’ place, a four-flat in which the other second-floor resident was our own Jeff Borden, still looks exactly the same. So there’s continuity in the world.

The weekend awaits, and I need a shower. So I’m gonna take one.

Posted at 8:23 am in Same ol' same ol' |

41 responses to “Years and years.”

  1. kv450 said on April 1, 2022 at 8:43 am

    Great post. My jaw dropped when I got to the reveal. (The wife was properly amused as well.)
    Always an interesting experience to see our former residences years later. (thanks, Google Maps)

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  2. David C said on April 1, 2022 at 8:51 am

    The place I grew up in is under the M-6 freeway in Grand Rapids. When my sister would drive down the old street with my niece and nephew, she would point out the overpass and tell them that’s where we grew up. My niece swears she believed we lived under the bridge. It’s probably good that the old place is gone. I go back and look at the houses we owned and I’m usually disappointed at what the new owners have done.

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  3. Mark P said on April 1, 2022 at 9:29 am

    The second floor middle window looks like it should have been there all along, if it wasn’t. I generally don’t like non-functional shutters, but that house definitely needs them now. I’m sure the addition is nice, but no. Now the house looks like an apartment building.

    My childhood home sold for probably around $20,000 in around 1966. It’s now a nephrology center. My paternal grandmother’s house that was about a mile away is a vacant lot. The house my parents moved into in 1967 is looking kind of slummy now.

    My childhood memories
    Slowly swirled past
    Like the wind through the trees

    And, by the way, my mother’s mother lived in Cuyahoga Falls.

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  4. Julie Robinson said on April 1, 2022 at 9:58 am

    The new owners of our second house took out every bit of landscaping we’d lovingly planted and nurtured. In its place grass was run all the way up to the foundation. But I guess that’s a lot easier to care for if you don’t care. What was a pretty little house is now just a box.

    Hope your brother is on the mend.

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  5. jcburns said on April 1, 2022 at 10:35 am

    What’s interesting to me is how much your entire current street (in GP) evokes that classic older part of metro Columbus your growing-up house sat in.

    So the first picture is not your own, it’s from Zillow or Google Maps or something? It’s a good picture. Surprisingly good!

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  6. nancy said on April 1, 2022 at 10:43 am

    It’s from Zillow. And in defense of subsequent owners, the place looked GREAT in that listing. They tore up the wall-to-wall, refinished the floors and updated everything. Meanwhile, for those of you watching at home, you need to know that J.C.’s mother lived down the street from us, in a row of 20’s-era apartments, known simply as “the apartments.” He didn’t grow up there, but I would sometimes stroll down there, in that interval after college and before I had my own place, and sit a spell visiting with Jeanne. “The apartments” were considered a little sketchy, and they, too, have been massively upgraded and are probably pricey condos by now.

    I gotta give our old neighborhood (and our current one) credit for this: There was a wide variety of housing within the municipal limits. People weren’t as terrified of living next door to someone who made less money than they did. Some streets were better than others, of course, but there was a great deal of apartment housing, a lot of different house sizes, etc., much of which was lived in by teachers, empty-nest older people, etc. Proximity to Ohio State’s campus and excellent schools was a huge plus, too. All almost certainly unaffordable to a teacher now.

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  7. LAMary said on April 1, 2022 at 11:48 am

    The house I grew up in has had a lot of weird things done to it. My sister in law lives next door so I get updates on the changes. It’s brick on the first floor, wood siding on the second. There aren’t many brick homes here in LA because bricks don’t do well in earthquakes. My current house was built in the late twenties or early thirties. All redwood siding, which was mostly covered with stucco at some point and then the stucco was covered with redwood, so I’ve got very thick exterior walls here.

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  8. Joseph Kobiela said on April 1, 2022 at 11:56 am

    A house is just a house, a home is where you live.
    Pilot Joe

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  9. jcburns said on April 1, 2022 at 12:01 pm

    My mom enjoyed visiting with you, for sure, Nancy.

    And yeah, that’s perfect: “the apartments, considered a little sketchy.” Definitely my mom’s style.

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  10. ROGirl said on April 1, 2022 at 12:23 pm

    I grew up in a 1950s brick ranch and I live in one now.

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  11. Jeff Borden said on April 1, 2022 at 12:43 pm

    Our house is a small wooden place –maybe 1,300-1,400 square feet– built in 1905 as a house for a working family. When we pulled up the carpet on the second floor, we were hoping for restorable oak floors, but they were cheap pine. It’s been changed through the years, sometimes by “weekend warriors” who didn’t know what they were doing and didn’t abide by city building codes. We’ve put a ton of money into it during our 29 years here –and bringing everything up to code– but it’s likely when we shuffle off, a bulldozer will flatten it.

    The huge homes puzzle me. Unless you’ve got four or five or six kids, what’re you doing with all that space? The place immediately north of ours is more than 6,000-square-feet housing a husband, a wife and a teenaged daughter. And two small dogs. I’d get lost in there.

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  12. David C said on April 1, 2022 at 1:29 pm

    My wife’s family of ten lived in a 15-1600 square foot, one bathroom house. You don’t even need a huge home with a lot of children. I don’t know how they managed with just one bathroom though.

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  13. LAMary said on April 1, 2022 at 1:34 pm

    My current house is about 1700 square feet which worked well for raising two kids. The kids’ room is now my office. I wish my kitchen wasn’t so tiny but other than that it’s all ok. When I bought it the attraction was the double lot. I had two big dogs at the time and a half acre fenced yard was a real find. The neighborhood was sketchier then but having a real variety of neighbors was great. Now it’s very gentrified and I barely know any of my neighbors. I get emails from Redfin and Zillow all the time telling my house is worth crazy money. It’s a very ordinary old house but supposedly it’s worth 1.6 million. That’s more than ten times what I paid for it in 1987. Someone would probably bulldoze the house and build two monstrosities on the lot.

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  14. Julie Robinson said on April 1, 2022 at 2:32 pm

    Bulldozing for McMansions is the usual around here too. This neighborhood was built in the 50’s for families associated with the nearby navy base* and they’re pretty small, two or three bedrooms with one or two bathrooms. No storage space, most with no garages, pretty basic homes. Yet people are paying crazy prices for them because of the neighborhood’s vibe.

    *Long gone, now home to super dense and super bland apartments/town homes. Remember the book Paper Town? This is the paper town it was about.

    DavidC, my husband was one of ten kids in a tiny house with one bathroom. You got in the tub or shower and left the door open so others could use the facilities. We only had one bathroom, for two kids, but there was a shower in the basement.

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  15. alex said on April 1, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    I bought my current home largely because of the outdoor space and scenic views and tree canopy and large windows throughout, all of which were features of the home I grew up in. It’s much more modest than the home I grew up in, though, and I’m looking forward to taking over the family home when my dad’s done with it. Right now it’s getting rewired and replumbed and up to code and my partner and I will take care of all of the cosmetics and landscaping eventually. It’ll be a great hobby for my retirement.

    My parents were never the sort who felt they had to live in an exclusive enclave, and their house is situated in a scenic semi-rural area among homes that cover the whole economic spectrum. What people have in common there is that they love nature and the outdoors and the scenic views. It’s a class of people unto itself and I feel right at home there.

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  16. Deborah said on April 1, 2022 at 5:04 pm

    Last time I looked it up the house I grew up in, in Miami it was only able to be viewed from above on Google earth, there was no street view. When I lived there my parents had turned it into a place with every kind of tropical fruit tree and tropical plant possible and people used to stop on the street to ask to look at the back yard. It had a carport, 3 small bedrooms and one bath. My dad added a screened in porch to the back after my sister and I moved out where he grew orchids and bromeliads. He moved when he got remarried, to a nothing gated neighborhood in Davey, FL. Someone had told me that the whole neighborhood had gotten wiped out after one of the horrendous hurricanes that came later but it’s still there. From above I can tell a lot of rooms have been added on to the house, filling up nearly the whole yard, hardly any plants now. When I lived there, there were no sidewalks and we played in the street a lot. No curbs either, the streets were asphalt and then gravel on the sides, we had fantastic mudpuddles after it rained, which we loved. We biked and roamed for blocks and blocks and no one ever worried about it being the least bit dangerous. There was a tiny little store on one of the corners in the neighborhood a couple of blocks away where our mom sent us to by a loaf of bread when we were out, unheard of nowadays, of course. A loaf of bread cost a dime or something like that, of course it was horrible bread that barely held a sandwich together, would flatten to a millimeter thick in your lunchbox.

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  17. Heather said on April 1, 2022 at 5:32 pm

    My condo is about the size of the apartment I grew up in in a suburb of Chicago. But at least I have it to myself.

    I’d love to buy a house, but as a single person, unless I’m willing to move to a far suburb, a small town, or somewhere in the city I might not feel entirely safe, it’s probably not going to happen. It’s frustrating that my choices are so limited with one income.

    My dad grew up in Oak Park in an apartment with six kids and one bathroom. There are many stories about one of my aunts commandeering the tub for hours despite people banging on the door. My dad and my uncle actually slept in the enclosed porch in back, which was quite cold in winter.

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  18. Julie Robinson said on April 1, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    Deborah, we’re doing something similar with our yard, except we’re including veggies and gardening the front also. This has been happening in one form or another for five years, but we’re working with an environmental landscape designer now who is making it much better. There’ll be very little grass when we’re done.

    And yikes, we just got our homeowners’ insurance renewal and the premium increased 83%. I guess we should be happy they didn’t drop us completely but the Florida market is one hot mess now and the legislature did nothing to fix the problem.

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  19. Sherri said on April 1, 2022 at 6:09 pm

    Per our discussion on Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law yesterday:

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  20. Dexter Friend said on April 1, 2022 at 8:11 pm,-85.146637,3a,75y,252.28h,89.68t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sEE0WIlsDoOr8PXPGrjCHvg!2e0!7i3328!8i1664?hl=en
    My boyhood home.
    One spigot of cold water, oil burner heat, outhouse. We had a gas station across the road where we bought Baby Ruths and Pepsi Colas. We ate well and were happy. 🙂

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  21. LAMary said on April 1, 2022 at 10:00 pm

    Just got an email from a realtor. A house in my neighborhood sold for 1.4 million. It’s 875 sq.feet and it’s built on a steep slope. No usable yard. Nice deck, though.

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  22. Jeff Borden said on April 1, 2022 at 11:25 pm

    Since the QOP offers nothing in the way of legislation beyond tax cuts for the .01%, it’s increasing its attacks on LBGQT people. Think that SCOTUS ruling allowing gay marriage is gonna stand? Don’t be so sure. There’s a mob disguised as a political party coming for you.

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  23. Dexter Friend said on April 2, 2022 at 1:23 am

    House Where Nobody Lives…Tom Waits

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  24. Pam said on April 2, 2022 at 9:31 am

    The old house looks too “bricky” to me. If I were building a 2 story addition where I couldn’t match the brick at all, I would consider some other type of covering, like Hardie. I’m sure it could have been done right. And what’s that basket on the front called and what’s it for? The changes should make the house easier to live in. Now, how to get rid of that pesky stadium out back?

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  25. Jeff Borden said on April 2, 2022 at 9:35 am

    Was it a mere coincidence $arah Palin announced her bid for a Congressional seat on April Fools Day? Christ, if elected, she’d look like Daniel Webster compared to Boebert, Cawthorn, Greene and Gaetz.

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  26. alex said on April 2, 2022 at 10:38 am

    Since She Who has already proven that she’s not capable of handling elected office for more than two years, a House seat might be just the perfect place for her.

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  27. alex said on April 2, 2022 at 11:04 am

    On this date in history 2007 I note that we were talking about hyperlocal names for drugs. I hadn’t been clued into this one yet, but learned from my partner that marijuana is “cake” and the dealer is known as “the bakery.”

    Of course, that’s all out the window now as there are bazillions of dispensaries along the border and no one buys shit from dealers anymore. The tiny village of Camden, Michigan, has four. Billboards advertise that the grass is greener on the other side of the state line and Indiana is hemorrhaging plenty of green into Michigan’s coffers. The concentration of dispensaries on Michigan’s southern border is higher than anywhere else in the state.

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  28. Julie Robinson said on April 2, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    Over the last four days we planted our new raised garden and ten pots of flowers. It’s actually really late for planting here but we had to wait for the landscape guy. He still has to finish the rest of the yard. So I’m on a flower high at the moment. Most attract pollinators and the yard is filled with butterflies, flitting around and delighting us all.

    D is fretting about how to watch the basketball semifinals, which are on TBS. He despises going to sports bars so I guess we’ll do a free trial with a streamer, just to watch two games.

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  29. Little Bird said on April 2, 2022 at 1:23 pm

    New Mexico just went recreational legal yesterday. And sales hit $1.8 million by the end of the day. I’m not a fan of crowds so I decided to not go. I have a medical card, and will continue to experience better pricing than the recreational stuff, plus I have plenty on hand to wait a bit.
    The weird thing was all the ads for pot themed dog toys from Chewy. I don’t have a dog.

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  30. Jeff Gill said on April 2, 2022 at 2:04 pm

    I’m here in MeTV land, and just found out about the TBS status of tonight’s games. Ah well. Just had my fifth or sixth conversation about not renewing my father-in-law’s driver’s license; usually we end with a decision to not do so. This was one of those.

    I’m still not ready to see what’s been done to the Valpo house, but that day will come. Meanwhile, Licking County, Ohio real estate has suddenly jumped onto an escalator. Our transitional housing organization had a bucketful of plans to build and/or leverage working class & senior housing here, and that bucket just sprang a big leak… partners semi-willing to work with us just turned em masse to join the herd thundering towards the McMansion cliff.

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  31. tajalli said on April 2, 2022 at 3:47 pm

    Just beginning to dip into Empty Mansions, a biographical description of the mansions of copper heiress Hughette Clark (1906-2011) for my local library’s book club this month. Hughette (oo-GET) was quite reclusive, so not much is known of her, and the resulting book is delightfully heavy on the era’s architectural history.

    The search is on for an indeterminate (ever fruiting) plum tomato, probably a San Marzano variety, since it’s been so much fun watching my Sweet 100 cherry tomato revivify with the arrival of spring.

    Julie, I have a friend who’s moving back to Florida and looking forward to hot weather-loving tomatoes and peppers, so maybe you could get some of those into your mix. Plenty of calcium in the soil, so you could acidify with coffee grounds and they’d thrive.

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  32. Julie Robinson said on April 2, 2022 at 5:06 pm

    Oddly enough the beefsteak tomatoes and bell peppers don’t do well here although I don’t know enough yet to understand why. Smaller, spicier peppers, Everglade tiny salad tomatoes thrive, and those we are growing. Soil has already been amended and we compost ferociously.

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  33. alex said on April 2, 2022 at 7:11 pm

    Julie, it has been my experience that peppers like very sandy soil. Don’t be afraid to amend with a lot of it. As for tomatoes, they tend to get diseased in high humidity (even in Indiana) unless they’re planted far apart and watered only at the roots, avoiding excessive moisture on foliage and fruits. Moisture encourages mold diseases that stunt and kill tomato plants.

    I have a bunch of plants started already and can’t wait until mid-May, when it’s finally safe to put them into the ground.

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  34. Julie Robinson said on April 2, 2022 at 8:10 pm

    The “soil” here is basically sand. It’s the total opposite of Indiana clay, and very different from the rich black earth of my childhood in northern Illinois. Apparently it’s already the end of petunia season. So learning I’m having!

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  35. tajalli said on April 2, 2022 at 8:34 pm

    Alex, my dwarf zucchini was pretty much a failure due to powdery mildew, but my tomato was untouched. The dwarf golden pepper was only slightly affected but probably needed more heat. I use pots on my west-facing balcony.

    Tomatoes don’t do well in alkaline soils – Florida’s water has a very high alkalinity which I discovered while visiting my father in Winter Park. So much mineral content that my shampoo didn’t work! Tomatoes need a pH between 6.0-6.5, slightly on the acid side of the neutral 7.0, which was why I mentioned adding used coffee grounds. Julie, your county agriculture dept might have some tips.

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  36. Dexter Friend said on April 3, 2022 at 3:15 am

    I usually, of late anyway, drive to Camden once or twice a year for a Michigan Lotto ticket. Last summer I was amazed at the rickety old weather-beaten tiny burgh’s new palace of dope. It’s a million dollar building amongst the rubble. Must be good business. I hear the prices are sky-high; it’s of no interest to me as I haven’t toked in nearly 40 years. Gummies? Nope. They can make you feel like you are losing your mind if the dosage gets fucked up, so my family tells me. They know.
    Jeff Gill: You missed the greatest college basketball game in 40 years, at least. North Carolina edged Duke 81-77 in a game with at least 18 or 19 lead changes. The post-game panel of experts and former players agreed with me: probably , indeed, the greatest game ever, as in EVER. I was so happy to watch Duke go down in flames in the end, finally. Tarheels have a player called Love who is the latest reincarnation of Superman.

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  37. alex said on April 3, 2022 at 11:47 am

    tajalli, I had serious problems with mold last summer, as did many people in my area. Extremely rainy and humid growing season. And it was the first time I ever experienced tomato mold. I’ve only experienced powdery mildew on my tall phlox plants, and this year I intend to treat it as soon as I see it and not when it’s too late as usually happens.

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  38. Julie Robinson said on April 3, 2022 at 12:13 pm

    tajalli, our front yard has been a garden for several years, since Rob Greenfield planted it as part of his grow/forage all his own food for a year. This video is shot mostly in our yard:

    Since he moved on it’s gone through changes but when our addition was being built they trenched through the whole thing, and it seemed like time for a fresh start. Our daughter is part of several different permaculture groups and was instrumental as part of a local group called Fleet Farms, who garden front yards. The very first one in the neighborhood was at her church, along with a community compost site and community fruit trees. We have lots of resources around us; it’s mostly that I have to unlearn my midwest gardening style.

    Also I have to learn what the plants look like as seedlings. A lot of the greens look like weeds to me and it’s dangerous for me to go weeding alone.

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  39. tajalli said on April 3, 2022 at 1:24 pm

    “a lot of the greens look like weeds to me – Julie” Ha Ha! That’s what a lot of them look like in the produce store, too!

    My mother made the best dill pickles I’ve ever had, but her recipe didn’t travel well away from my childhood watershed – the secret was in the water. Might be that you need a tomato variety developed specifically for your area’s soil and weather. It will be fun for you to hack the Florida gardening scene.

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  40. diane said on April 3, 2022 at 9:41 pm

    I remember when a year was the general recommendation but that was quite a while ago. Now it is 6-9 months or even younger.

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  41. Knowlson said on April 10, 2022 at 11:48 am

    The past year or so I’ve been having really vivid dreams about the house I grew up in. It was nothing special, just a 1954 Cape Cod, and I haven’t been back there in over 20 years. In my dreams I’m living there or sometimes just walking through the rooms in awe.

    I took a peek at it recently on google street view and it looks pretty much the same, but all the trees are gone. Some of my most vivid memories of the place are from when I was five or six years old, so in my dreams the place is massive. But it looks so… ordinary on StreetView. Just a house.

    I don’t know which would be more depressing: knowing the house is still there and occupied by strangers (“I wonder who’s sleeping in my old bedroom?”) or if it had been demolished and replaced with an office building or parking lot (“My old bedroom is gone!”)

    The house next to us was a big Victorian and I remember it being a dark and somber place. The side and back yard was full of trees and bushes. Neighbors had been living there since the 1920s (they were elderly by the 1960s). When I looked at it on StreetView, I see the current owners have painted it a very light gray, removed most of the big dramatic landscaping, and paved over the winding gravel driveway. It looks… plain, nothing like how I remember it.

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