Impelled by a sudden longing, I took down the name of the real estate agent, bubbling with thoughts of calling for an appointment. But lacking even the slightest inclination to buy produced a sense of guilt at carrying out such a deception. That, coupled with the passage of miles and years as I drove away from the old neighborhood, tempered the wistful mood.
Still, enough curiosity remained for me to check out the property online. I was hoping for a virtual tour yet figured the chances were slim. The house, now in a dicey neighborhood, listed for only $49,500 – probably not high enough to bother with VR.
I was right – no virtual tour. But I did find a novenary of recent photographs. Looking at those nine pictures revealed that the current owners had done a beautiful job of reinvigorating a house that dated back to the era of gas lamps. Here was our old living room, its woodwork restored to a rich dark sheen. Here was my second-floor back bedroom, its narrow staircase serving as a shortcut to the kitchen, where new cabinets had replaced the ones I watched my father install 50-odd years ago.
We moved into this house when I was 5 and moved out when I was in my early 20s, which means it forever encrusts my formative years. It’s where I discovered the pleasure of novels, a passion for science fiction and a wavering path to adulthood.
For now, I’ll sequester these photos and the thousand windows into yesteryear that they open. But I know that the power of nostalgia cannot be denied. Sooner or later, I’ll peer again through those tinted panes, recycling an ever-more-distant past that continues to illuminate the way forward.