Thursday, 16 November 2017


The row of houses I once lived in

Ofttimes, when we move from one phase of our lives into another, we do so without a backward glance and with nary a thought to what we're leaving behind.  For example, when I passed through the gate of my primary school for the final time, the fact that it was part of my life that was seemingly gone forever didn't, as far as I recall, perturb me in the slightest.  Soon, the classrooms and corridors of my secondary school became the familiar routine of my daily life, and I'm surprised, looking back today, at just how quickly and easily I adapted to the change without even realizing it.

The front gate of my old primary school - from the inside

It wasn't until I revisited my old primary a few years later, after having left secondary and joined the working classes, that it dawned on me that, in some mysterious, mystical, magical way, I was still connected to this aspect of my past and, in truth, had never really parted from it.  You see, not thinking about a thing is not the same as forgetting it.  The memory yet dwells in our subconscious;  what we forget is the act of remembering - until, that is, something suddenly triggers the memory and causes it to erupt in our minds like an exploding firework.

The toilets - listen to that water trickle

I remember one day a few years back, when I suddenly caught a whiff of disinfectant and was instantly transported back to the toilets of my old primary school, where I often used to retire to during lessons for a bit of peace and quiet in the cool of the tiled environs, with the sound of gently-gurgling water emanating from the cubicle cisterns and porcelain urinals.  I felt such a soothing sense of tranquility there, and it was my very own 'fortress of solitude' for five minutes at a time whenever the confines of the classroom became too claustrophobic for me.  ( I assume my teacher simply thought I had a weak bladder.)

I can see my house from here.  The view from my classroom

I've previously mentioned how I felt when I revisited a former home for the first time since I'd moved 16 years before (which, at the time, was more than half my life away), and it was practically the same as when I'd left.  As I said in this post,  it was as if the intervening years and two houses I'd lived in since were only a dream, and I still felt right at home there.  I'm sure we've all had the experience of meeting someone we haven't seen or thought of in years and it's just as if we saw them only a short while before.  That's how I felt on that particular day.

My former back garden - ah, happy memories

When we moved back to my present house after four years away, I was surprised to see the hand-shovel we'd kept outside the back door for lifting our dog's 'number twos' from the lawn was still where we'd inadvertently left it.  The couple who'd lived here in our absence had used it for the very same purpose (I assume) with their own dog.  We'd already acquired a replacement, so I don't think we kept the old one (for long anyway) after moving back, which is rather sad.  To wait there (loyally) for four years, only to get so callously discarded when we returned - ah, the injustice.    

Tara - in the 'other' house.  She spent the last three years of her life
 there, after living eight and a half years in the one I again occupy 

One thing I remember being pleasantly surprised at was again seeing the scratches our dog (Tara) had made in the door when we first lived here.  She'd also scratched the back door of the home we'd just left (and in which she'd expired) to return here, but I was saddened to see on a recent visit to that house after 30 years, that the doors had been replaced and her 'presence' there obliterated.  As was her successor's (Zara), who spent her first year in that house and who also contributed to the back door 'etchings'.  Of course, Zara added her own 'signature' to the back door of this house when we returned, so two different doors in two different houses once bore the marks of the same two dogs for a goodly number of years.
Tara's successor, Zara (who was born a month before Tara
died), in my present abode not too long after moving back

Well, I could labour the point I suppose, with example after example, but I'm sure you're all smart enough to catch my drift.  Things we may think we've left behind (whether or not, at the time, we were even aware of it) come with us without us realizing it.  They reside in the caverns of memory, reluctant to let go of us despite our seeming indifference to them.  Whether it be garden gates, bedroom carpets, once favourite toys, favoured friends, or whatever, they follow us throughout our lives, just waiting for an opportune moment to renew the acquaintance.

Long may it ever be so.   


Dave S said...

I do regret the fact that I left primary school without having a look round and really taking it all in, because I had so many happy times there - I just left on my last day as though it were any other day in the previous 7 years.

Secondary school on the other hand, I'm delighted to say I got out of there as quickly as I could on my last day and never looked back.

Kid said...

I feel the same way about my primary schools (I had two), but fortunately I was able to go back and 'look around' both of them. Hard to believe they were demolished a few years ago. I tend to think they still exist - until I'm in the street where they used to be and see thy're not there anymore.

I din't much like secondary school at the time, but I'm amazed to find I have fond memories of the place all these years later. Funny, eh?

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