Looking Back to Brookfield

“Poets claim that we recapture for a moment the self that we were long ago when we enter some house or garden in which we used to live in our youth. But these are most hazardous pilgrimages, which end as often in disappointment as in success. It is in ourselves that we should rather seek to find those fixed places, contemporaneous with different years.”

— Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past

9037 Bartlett Avenue

A childhood friend, John Buck, who grew up two streets over from me, sent this photo of the home in which I grew up. I spent nearly 18 years there, moving out in August, 1978. Returning briefly after my first year of college, when I got there my parents were gone and there was a FOR SALE sign in that patch of lawn in front of the picture window and evergreen shrubs. I don’t think they’re they same shrubs, and it appears the widow was replaced as well.

This house is often the setting in my dreams. But I don’t usually see it from the outside. In all my memories I’m inside, and I belong there.

Looking at this house and remembering time spent there, with respect to Marcel Proust, I am not disappointed. It reminds me of the value of a stable childhood, which is a legacy I wish to pass on to my own children. Even though we move twice a year, at least we go back-and-forth to the same two homes. And as we prepare them for their futures, I can only hope that when they do look back, it is with a feeling of success.

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