A.K.A…a long overdue post…
I’m not sure where to begin, but there are some days that you think will never come, and some things that you will just never be ready for.
This past summer was a very busy summer of travel for Missy and I. Most of the time, our busy-ness involved our very well documented trip to Italy. Sadly, there was one trip we had to make under exceptionally different circumstances. This past June, Missy and I made an unplanned trip back to my hometown, Hagerstown, Maryland, to say goodbye to the house I was raised in.
I was three years old in 1986 when my sister Hannah was born. The house I had lived in up to that point was just too small for my growing family, so we moved into a much bigger house…932 Oak Hill Avenue.
For reasons I care not to delve into in this venue, the time finally came to move my Mom and 25 years worth of “stuff” out of the only house that I had really known while growing up. So rather than spend time looking at the how, why, and what could have been…I thought I would spend a few minutes on a walk down memory lane, looking back on all the good times had in that place I called home for so many years.
Home. I know that it’s a trite, overused expression, but what makes a house a home? Four walls, a floor, and a roof…it could have been Anywhereville, USA. Somewhere though, there is a tape of my 5 year old little voice answering a question from my Mom:
“Tommy, in case you get lost, what is your address?”
“932 Oak Hill Avenue, Hagerstown Maryland.”
Those four walls, floor, and roof however, well…they were mine. If those walls could talk! So many traditions were formed and shaped there. Traditions I, for the most part hated growing up, but looking back…it seems like my childhood would not be complete without them.
Like fruitcakes. Now, who doesn’t like a good Christmas fruitcake? My mom has a recipe that supposedly makes the “best tasting Christmas fruitcakes ever“. Now, I have honestly never given them the time of day, but every winter the siblings would gather around the food grinder to grind up candy fruits, which mom would then take and compile the final product.
There were many other traditions that we had in the Hardinge household. Although I don’t have many pictures to show for it here with me in Iowa, every year on the first day of school we were “forced” to have our picture taken. Now…inside would have been fine…but no, these pictures just had to be taken outside, in the front of the house, where all of my friends driving by could point and laugh…or so I thought while said pictures were being taken.
Aside from traditions, there are a kajilion other memories from this house that would take me weeks and weeks to put into words. 17 steps from downstairs to upstairs. Christmas stockings at the foot of the bed to dive into before presents were open. Playmobil Western Town, Space Legos, and Transformers in the basement…later to be replaced by drumsets, guitars, and stereos. There were good times and bad. Family gatherings. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, New Years. Countless days spent sick on the couch with a cold, fever, recovering from wisdom teeth being pulled, and the dreaded Chicken Pox!
Maybe I’ll write a memoir later in life that describes in detail the amazing time spent at 932. Ok, so maybe not. I probably won’t ever write one…but, I guess you never know. There are a lot many things I’d like to write about…but they would probably only seem interesting to me and a handful of other people. So we’re probably not looking at a NY Times bestseller. But I digress…I’ll just stick to blogging. Back to the memories.
It was very hard to say goodbye, but we kept too busy with the move to spend too much time dwelling on the situation though. The whole family was over to help with the final push to get the house emptied. They had helped start the whole processes weeks before Missy and I arrived, and it could not have happened without them. That Saturday night, we had a final party at the house; a final sendoff: hardshell crabs and beers in the driveway (it’s a Maryland thing), and a bonfire to cap off the night.
All my siblings and I were able to go through boxes upon boxes of things that have been saved from years gone by. We had some good laughs, and even some good cries. I can’t believe the amount of stuff that was in that house…but in the end it was all moved out and eventually the house was emptied, and with it, the memories that were made over the course of 25 years. It was very surreal seeing the house so empty…something that I was too young to remember the last time it was like that. So, it was a sad trip indeed, but Missy and I were definitely glad we got to say our goodbyes.
It will be hard going back to Hagerstown this winter and for the first time, not going back into that house. I’m not quite sure how I am going to handle it, honestly. But even though I won’t have the house…those walls, floor, and roof…I will still have the people, pictures, and memories with me that made it a home. Thanks for the memories, Nine Thirty-Two. You will be missed.