Friday, August 20, 2010

Life does go on.

Photo of a garage, in my old neighborhood, sporting artwork on it.

I recently took a drive through my old neighborhood. I don't think I've been back since we moved nine years ago. I drove up and down the familiar and now not so familiar streets looking at what had changed. I was amazed at the amount of change that I did see.

For thirty years we lived in our home. I drove back and forth on Willy Street and it stayed the same. It's that sameness that drove me to tears at a stoplight, one afternoon, ten years or so ago.
I looked around me at the same street stuck in it's 1969's mode, the same sad, aged, hippies wandering around, the same bars and gas stations that looked like ads for something from the 1950s. It just hit me that I had been driving up and down this same street for thirty years and I honestly wasn't sure I could do it another 30 or even one.

I guess that's what it's like when they talk about some people having a mid life crisis. It's something that just comes over you, un announced, un asked for, un welcome and hits you like a ton a bricks.

I had a meltdown at the intersection during a red light.

Ten years later I am driving down Willy Street and having a hard time recognizing where I am.
Where did all this change come from?
Condos............repainted, fixed up building now housing coffee shops, art shops and ever so many other trendy things.

The Atomic Cafe is still in business. Zeus and I had coffee at least once a week there, to catch up on what was going on in our lives, minus the things we had to do for the three kids. We drank dark, strong coffees while the woman next to us, mumbled and argued with her imaginary friend.

The out of business for at least thirty years, gas station has now been replaced with a gorgeous 8 story condo building.

The gun shop is now a Chinese restaurant.

The house that once sported five, perhaps six different colors on it is now a sedate neutral color.
And, the organic art work of repositioned bowling balls on the front lawn is gone. Now the yard blooms with color from a prairie garden.

At first I am resentful. How could they go and do this AFTER I left?

Then I drive through my old neighborhoods. The ones where I walked child after child in a stroller. Up and down streets, the said child getting some fresh air and while I got my exercise.

The near East side was always a desirable old neighborhood. It was the working class neighborhood. Our old house was once the first house built in the platted vacation home area for those Chicago people. They didn't come in the droves that the builders had hoped. Meanwhile the iron works opened a factory up the road and homes were built for their workers.

Our old house, gutted and rebuilt with love, from the inside, by Zeus was a beautiful home. We never put it on the market. A couple that lived in the neighborhood, loved the house, heard we were thinking of selling and asked to buy it. They live there still. They haven't changed a thing on the outside of the house. My gardens looks the same. The trees I planted are bigger.

What has changed is the city's lack of budget for park maintenance. The city no longer cuts the brush along the banks of the lake. It's all overgrown and the bushes and volunteer trees are huge. You can no longer even see the lake from our old house. That's sad. It was a beautiful view.
The park swimming area that was maintained and provided a life guard for thirty or more years is now closed. The beach gone and the brush taking over.

I was no longer resentful. Change happens. Life moves on. I love it where I am now. I'll miss Gene's mini golf and the Hungry Hungry sign with the pair of over sized, HUGE blue jean overalls on it. Now, another condo complex. But, I remember the times we had with the kids playing mini golf and eating breakfast at the Hungry Hungry restaurant.

:)Bea Create, the moment you have is now.


  1. I love to walk along... Memory lane

    Even if it isn't my memories. You've painted a lovely picture of your past. :)

  2. I think you said it- "I love where I am now". Such an important frame of mind. I too have left houses behind and marvel at the changes good and bad- really emotional stuff... I'm 55 and am daily going through letting go and accepting change. This is a wonderful and thought provoking post- I'm so glad you shared these reflections Bea and thank you for your lovely comment on my blog!

  3. I agree with Lori, this was a thought provoking post. I know of a man who had traveled all over the country and lived in many houses. He and his wife took a vacation and went back to each of their residences. What a nostalgic trip that must have been, as was yours.

    Yes. Live and be thankful for now. Great!

  4. Thanks Jaime. If a storyteller writes down their stories then they live a little bit longer. :)Bea

    Lori, thank you for taking the time to stop by. I am reminded every day that each moment is precious. :)Bea

    Healing Woman, oh I do so love your name. I once was gifted with my "true name" by a witch doctor in Africa, Finder of Lost Things Of Value. :)Bea

  5. I LOVED this post. The house we lived in when our son was born was torn down several years ago and the lot still sits vacant. It is so odd. The house we lived in after that has had some renovation done and the outside looks quite different from when we lived there. That too is odd. Your "memory lane" trip made me think of these homes and much more. Thank you so much for sharing your memories; I felt I was right there with you and could see what you were both seeing and miss what you were missing. Bravo.