Like moths to a flame we were unable to resist the pull of our former stomping grounds and returned to our old neighborhood, Glen Park, the first moment we had a chance. Back to Tyger’s Coffee Shop, our favorite local diner that was just two blocks downhill from our old house. Back to the place where we spent every weekend (usually both Saturday AND Sunday) when we were in town. Back to the place of countless plate-sized blueberry pancakes and heaping scoops of corned beef hash and bottomless cups of coffee poured into those perfect white diner mugs. Back to *our* go-to spot, *our* diner, *our* place.
It felt strange walking around our old neighborhood after being gone for so long – a sort of unsettled feeling that something was just not quite right. Familiar (older) faces were replaced with a gaggle of 20-something year old girls in impossibly short skirts (weren’t they cold?) talking loudly by what I’m guessing was the door to their shared flat. The first thought that crossed my mind: when did THEY move here? And then: well there goes the neighborhood. Glen Park as I remembered was a family neighborhood, a quiet and un-trendy place with lots of older people well-suited to Grandmas and Grandpas like us. Where was everyone? Who were these people? How dare these young trendsters try to make the neighborhood cool. There was a brief moment of panic, a disjointed sensation from not recognizing anyone. From thinking that two years after we left the whole world had gone down the crapper. We were on the same set, but the actors had all been replaced.
I ate breakfast in reverie (as noted in the tired, sullen and pensive photos above. Note to self: wear make-up next time). The food tasted exactly as I expected it to taste. The diner still looked as hole-in-the-wall as ever. Brightly colored prickly squash and fake Autumn-colored leaves decorated the windows like they did every Fall season. Everything was the same. Everything was different.
After breakfast we walked back to our old house as if we were a long lost dog in search of its owner. We were now *those* people: the creepy couple standing on the street staring (and me photographing) a house where we no longer lived, pointing and saying things like, “remember when we used to…” and “look that is still there,” and “nice to see they finally landscaped the front,” and then eventually, more quietly, “I wonder who lives there now…”
The weirdest, most comforting thing about seeing our old house was how much it looked exactly the same. Just the way we left it. The bushes were still wild and overgrown, the curly white gate still had the dinky bell attached to a Masterlock, attached to the metal grate, the stupid plastic Christmas wreath was still hanging mysteriously on the side of the house, a left behind memory of the occupants before us. The street that we had walked on a million and one times still felt like our street. The house still felt a little bit like ours too, like if we walked up those garish “grass”-green painted steps and put our keys in the door that they would still fit.
It was still our home. And it also wasn’t.