Perhaps other bloggers feel, as I do, that one needs a fresh subject every once in a while. Today I’m starting a series---and will see where it goes---on everyday locations that I once visited but will no longer, and have not seen for many years. Some no longer exist, except in memory.
Our lives are filled with once-visited homes, stores in towns where we’ve lived, and other such everyday places. We move constantly in and out of rooms and public spaces, and then we move on to live elsewhere and never again reside or visit. But they continue to revisit us: that grocery, that living room, that overnight stop. “Place” is an important theme for me, and as a consequence of approaching 60, I’ve lately felt a need to draw a line back to such locations, to honor them, and to complete something in myself.
My daughter turns 25 soon, and I think of the rooms of the Arizona house where we lived at the time she was born. Her crib shared a room with three wall units that I had purchased a few years before as I served at my first parish. If I needed a book, and if she was asleep in there, I had to be quiet. The room acquired a baby smell.
I especially remember the living room-dining room area of that house, where she spent much of her first year playing, learning to roll over, learning to crawl, napping on the sofa or the floor. She doesn't remember this cozy space where she learned her first essential skills.
As I spent time with her, I wanted to be with her more than at my job as an associate pastor. Not untypical of dynamics in multi-staff churches, my boss resented my family time that took away from the family time that he sought. Thank goodness I realized that I didn’t want to miss my daughter’s growing-up years and soon made adjustments to my work.
We moved just prior to her first birthday, and we've never again been inside the house. The rooms linger in my memory as the beginning of our family life---"Team Stroble," as my wife has coined it. Checking whitepages.com just now, I’m pleased to see that the family who bought the house still lives there; they’ve built a lifetime of memories, hopefully happy ones, at the place.
Yet, I also think of a person I met who did plumbing for us at the house; he remembered hiking that area with his son before it was developed into a neighborhood. The construction of human habitat had spoiled the natural places that he had treasured.
Thus the poignancy of “place.” Places are subject to change, we miss things as they were, but we cherish the circumstance, the places where we've sojourned.