So I’m home again. For some definition of home. Back in California. Back to my roots. This time, I’m back for celebration. In theory. For happy events. Not for funerals. Seeing family to celebrate. To celebrate marriage, to celebrate graduation. Happy. No mourning allowed.
But this time being back means sorting through the past. Sorting through my history. Sorting through literally thousands of photos from before my birth through high school. It’s my choice, of course. I want to go through these pictures. I love these pictures. That’s why I’m the family archivist.
I’ve never gone through so many at one time. Under these circumstances. Then again, I’ve never returned to California without my childhood home being my own. I’ve never returned to my Mom’s house with all of my Dad’s house waiting inside.
Full disclosure, I brought this on myself. In wanting to sort through everything. In asking that everything be brought over to my current house. In asking that it not all be unceremoniously thrown into a garbage dump.
I wanted to decide what to hold onto. What to give away. But walking into my house, even knowing what was coming, it all still hit me like a ton of bricks.
It’s not that I had forgotten that my childhood home had been sold. I was still blithely aware of that. Yet I somehow hadn’t pictured the monumental wall of stuff that would be facing me when I entered my house.
It’s a reality I was able to avoid in New York. I could avoid the concrete reality of my childhood house being sold, to some degree, from the other side of the country. From the comfort of my apartment.
I was able to ignore so much while living my own life in the city. But here it is. Box after box. Directly in front of me. Decision after decision. Keep this. Not that. Or that. Or that. Or that.
And I used to love these decisions. I used to relish going through everything, because it brought back such fond memories of my childhood.
Now, the past is bittersweet. The harsh reality of my father’s quick decision somehow poisons the well of nostalgia. Makes the memories more painful. More biting. Now I have to recognize that my family is no more. It is truly gone. Any concept of what my family was from childhood has been destroyed. And no trace remains.