A meme on Facebook.
As I mentioned in 2016, I took my boys too the old neighborhoods where I lived in Jefferson County:
So we hit St. Louis late in the morning, five hours ahead of our hotel check-in time, so I took the long way in, through Jefferson County where I could show the boys a couple places where I lived. The house in the valley in House Springs looked pretty dilapidated; the garage door had been replaced with a worn piece of plywood. Sometime around the time I left, the gravel road had been paved, but it doesn’t look as though it had been maintained at all, which is worse than having never been paved at all. I showed the boys where the mobile home I’d lived in for four years had sat, but Siesta Manor Mobile Home Park had rearranged the layout of the pads over time, so there wasn’t a 106 Quintana any more. After taking some flowers to my mother’s plot in the cemetery at Jefferson Barracks, we drove slowly by the house in Old Trees–the only house I’m sad to have left–and saw the lilies I planted ten years ago are six feet tall. We stopped at Blackburn Park, where the oldest played when he was one year old, and were the only people in the park on a Friday afternoon.
Then we headed north. We drove by the house in Casinoport, which looked much the same as it had or better. Most of the time we lived there, it was white asbestos shingle, but we had siding put on right before we left, so it looked better as we left than most of the time we lived there. We got to St. Charles, and I showed the boys a house where I lived with my aunt and uncle–who I grew up thinking were well-to-do but it turns out they were just doing better than we were. We checked into the hotel and had dinner at the Cracker Barrel nearby, which was good as the area around the St. Charles Convention Center was all torn up.
I drove past my aunt’s old house where we lived in her guest room and basement for a year and a half. Several times, actually, in the course of my travels to St. Louis.
Pretty much every time we go to St. Louis, though, I do drive by the house in Old Trees. As I mentioned, that’s the only place I’m a bit sad I left. It’s right off of Interstate 44, the road from Springfield to St. Louis, so it’s not far off of the path from where I’m going if I’m going to something in St. Louis County (it is not on the way to St. Charles, though, so I didn’t drive by it every time I was in the area last year).
However, other places I lived, I’m not sure I’m comfortable driving through.
The house I lived in when I lived with my mother in Lemay is in a sketchy area. It was sketchy then, but I was young and a bit angry-looking (albeit a skinny angry). I might drive past it, but I really haven’t the times I’ve been in the area to visit my mother’s grave at Jefferson Barracks.
The places I lived in Milwaukee. Well. I would certainly not drive by my house in the projects at night, and I haven’t really felt the need to go by it in the daytime when I’ve been in Milwaukee, either. The neighborhood where my father lived, and I lived in his basement during college, probably has not transitioned too badly, but the house where we lived the last month in Milwaukee before decamping for Missouri–the lease on our apartment in the projects ended before the school year, so we stayed with one of my mother’s friends until school ended and we moved (and my mother did not tell my father where we were for that month as a bit of a dirty trick–their marriage did not end amicably to say the least), well, that neighborhood has been in transition ever since, so I might drive by it, or I might not.
You know, the last couple of times I’ve been to Milwaukee have been transitional–we’re driving through it on the way to Wisconsin Dells, or we stayed in Germantown to visit my grandmother who lives outside the Milwaukee suburbs. Even when I was visiting Milwaukee in the 1990s and early part of the 2000s, I was staying downtown and did not get to the northwest side very often.
Do I get a sense of nostalgia when I do? You know, not really–I get more from my memory than the places themselves since they’ve changed enought that I only sort of recognize them. Or I’ve changed that much. Although given how I hang onto physical things for memories’ sake, perhaps it is more that the things have changed than me in this case.