There’s No Place Like Home! (Especially Your Old One)


red-shoesSometimes a walk down memory lane will lead you straight to the front porch of the home you grew up in, or raised your own family. It’s a great “field trip” to teach children about their roots and it may be cathartic for you as well. I have six kids and decided to show each of them the apartment or house where they spent their childhood days. We were able to recapture a lot of nostalgia, get good photos, and even release some emotional baggage from visiting our environments of yesteryear. So would you dare go back?? I say yes!

8 Of My Best Tips On Implementing This Unusual Endeavor:

  1. Mystery and Adventure: Approach this in an impromptu fashion. Don’t tell children in advance where you’re going and why. It could lead to disappointment if the new owners aren’t home or worse, uncooperative. The house could be torn down or surrounded with one of those charming huge termite tents. I made the mistake of enticing my 6-year-old son with viewing his old bedroom and when the new owners refused, he pounded on the door shouting, “Let me in or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.”
  2. Be reassuring! When you ring the bell of your old home, remember everything is familiar to you, but you’re complete strangers to the people answering the door! Set the new owner’s mind at ease that you’re not a realtor or soliciting magazines. Say something like, “Oh look Darling, there’s the same threshold you carried me over after our wedding, you tiger!” Be prepared for them to mentally calculate how much you weigh and scrutinize the size of your husband’s arms. Also, upon departing, resist the urge to place an “Open House!” sign on their lawn.
  3. Offer evidence. Say something very specific that will prove you really lived there. In the case of the home where I was pregnant with twins, we had written a little term of endearment on the floor tile where my water broke. “Little Fishies Started Here!” When I marched the current residents over to the exact spot to show them this cute piece of trivia, they had constructed an aquarium on top of it. Hmmm. I shudder to think what they would’ve built had we scrawled, “Conception took place here.”
  4. Stay a short time. You’re not arriving with your wedding china and recreating a family dinner. Ten minutes is the maximum you should stay if they’re willing to give you a brief tour.
  5. Don’t Be Nosy. It’s not a good idea to ask if your neighbor across the street ever got that much needed nose job. And for goodness sake, don’t critique their decorating skills. The last thing they’ll want to hear is that you can’t believe they put their bed against the same wall you used to keep the diaper pail.
  6. No Bad News. Try not to walk through their kitchen reminiscing about the time little Sarah choked on a chicken bone. Or confess your dog peed all over the master bedroom carpeting. One time I was thrown out because I took a little creative license (from the Poltergeist movie) and announced the home was built on top of old Indian burial grounds. Sheesh. No sense of humor.
  7. Don’t Get Emotional. If you’re prone to sentimentality when you look through old photos or watch home movies, prepare yourself in advance. I learned the hard way when we visited the home my beloved architect father designed for us. I burst into tears as soon as I saw the lovely stained glass windows in my bedroom had been replaced with bricks, the pink walls were painted gray and my white shag carpeting turned into concrete. The only thing missing was a hole in the ground for a toilet and it could’ve been Cellblock 9.
  8. Leave on a high note. Thank them profusely for their hospitality and give them a joyful parting tidbit like, “We hope you’ll have many happy occasions here just like our Christmas family reunions!” Clamp your hand over your kid’s mouth if he starts to say things like “Yeah, and Santa Clause NEVER delivers the good toys that need assembly to this house. And the tooth fairy always leaves “IOU” notes under the pillow!”
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42 thoughts on “There’s No Place Like Home! (Especially Your Old One)

  1. It is truly an experience to go back to some of these places. For me it was interesting to see how perspectives change when you are much older. So glad I am reading this, rereading number four, now I know why they gave me a funny look when I asked what was for dinner. Very good advice, so I suppose I should not have brought up when she threw a stack of dishes across the room or the time we were tear gassed when an ex-convict was loose and took refuge next door. Such memories, thanks.

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  2. Two weeks ago I visited my hometown where I lived (I moved to the city 5 years ago).. I stayed at my relative’s house for three days, it felt nostalgic, though many had changed over the years. However, I had no confidence to visit my used-to-be-house. It’s owned by person I don’t even know now. I want to, really want to enter the house, to stroll around the yard I loved very much for its trees at the back of my house, I miss the memories.

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  3. Wow! I’ve often driven by past homes I lived in (there were many). I don’t think I’d have the balls to knock on the door, nor the inclination to go back. I guess my memories weren’t as wonderful as yours. Kudos to you girl! 🙂

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    • Believe me – – sometimes it was to put some skeletons back into the closet! Seriously, I found it cathartic. Especially the home my father designed because after he passed away, I needed to be surrounded (literally) by his passion – – and architecture was that for him. Thanks for all you do for me on Twitter!! I don’t know how to use Twitter that well to thank you individually and I’m always afraid I’m sending out a general tweet when I’m just trying to personally express my appreciation to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol Stephanie, us writers sure have our challenges trying to wear our many hats. I hear you! I’m not the techiest in the world but I know a little bit about all platforms. FYI, if you ever want to tweet a message to one person in particular, (and not the universe, lol), Start your tweet with the person’s handle. EG: @pokercubster . . . …….then it will only go to that person. 🙂

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  4. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to visit, but I knew that I once I got here, I would like what I read.
    The comment about cleaning the bloodstains cracked me up.

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  5. Sensible advice, but is it wise to just cold call in the name of mystery and adventure? Wouldn’t it be more practical to schedule an appointment if they’re willing? 🙂

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    • Well – – at first I wanted to be ultra polite but it’s hard to get cell phone numbers in the US and nobody uses landlines anymore so when you say schedule, do you mean knock on the door and ask to schedule something for another time? Cuz I did that once and they said, “C’mon in!” I guess I lucked out with nice new homeowners!!

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  6. Being i’m from planet Gwrkl, I haven’t had the experience of returning home and showing Junior around. You see, my ship crashed here and I have been looking for some zzzgl. That’s the fuel I need. If you know where I can find some, let me know. And please don’t bring up Area 51. I have been there and none of those clown suits fit me. The feet are never big enough.

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  7. LOL. I went back to Argentina and found my old house. The woman living in it was nice enough to let me in and look around- it hadn’t changed much in 30 plus years. She then proceeded to gracefully usher me out after I started taking pictures- I was trying to take a photo of the built in bookshelf and I think she was worried I was taking surveillance shots of her home or something. For a second I thought I still lived there 🙂 Sounds like a fun trip down memory lane with the whole bunch of you.

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  8. We’ve done this with our own kids, and they asked us why? We told them that we thought it would be a nice reminder of their humble roots. They told us that if they ever wanted to be reminded of that, all they had to do was just look at where we live now. Next time we’re going to borrow somebody else’s kids. Again I’m last to post, I’m starting to feel like a rude follower. You’re probably a post or two ahead of me by now. A year from now you’ll look back at this post nostalgically and think; oh, he was still alive after all! Tip number three was too much. 😀

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      • To be honest (I lie so much) I really haven’t seen any of your comments in weeks. Which is odd, since I’m getting hundreds from other people (and I hope that explains my tardiness) including this response from you. And yes, I think I moderate. Although, you know how technologically challenged I am. I go to my dashboard and approve or delete comments… gee, I’m feeling more and more like god everyday. But, yep this was the first I’ve seen from you in awhile. Not to worry though, I’ll still continue to troll your blog, which should certainly keep you ill at ease. :O)

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          • It happened to me when I posted a comment on one of my other followers sites the other day on a post of there’s. They came over to my site to apologize for it happening. I think WordPress is the one who should apologize! Well at least you getting through now. I can’t figure it out. Hey, I got this response to my comment!

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  9. My poor kiddos endure my trip down memory lane each summer when I drag them, errr, take them to the beach. A story for every stop on the subway. Hour and a half ride, lots of stops/stories. 😉

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  10. Gah. We live where we lived before, and all we do is drive past our old homes and gasp or wince at how poorly their landscapes are maintained now. On my husband’s old Big Blue House, they’ve let the bushes grow to a point where they’re halfway up the bay window and a box of Barbies could take up residence in the lower branches. They mow over lilies and phlox. It’s painful.
    I can’t imagine asking to look inside. It’s probably a wreck!
    (Cute about the fishies!)

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  11. I actually bought my parents’ house when they divorced and my kids lived there until six years ago… we are actually comtemplating moving back to the old ‘Hood in the house across the street! (Basically a Mirror image of OUR house…)

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