I dreamed of growing up to be more Miss Havisham, less Estella. Not that I wanted to be alone, or a jilted bride, or with rotting cake on my table. I just pictured myself as an eccentric old lady. In an elaborate dress. In a big old house.
This old house.
It had been abandoned for years and was just a few blocks from my elementary school. One of my neighborhood friends shared my obsession. We tried to break in and we stole tiles from the porch. There was a tree in the front yard that was large enough to command the street. I memorized every eroding detail.
We got in just once. I remember a grand staircase and rows of built-in bookshelves. I thought that my life would feel complete if I could ever live in such a house.
When I was in my hometown last week, I took an hour or so to drive around and reminisce and think those heavy thoughts that show up like puddle reflections when you're in the place of your childhood.
I make that drive at least once a year. Sometimes it helps me clear a few cobwebs away. Other times it brings buried memories to the surface. It's like mental roulette.
My route usually takes me down F Street, and not by accident. I like to look at it, my first dream house. I like to see that the tree in the front yard isn't as big as I always thought it was. I like to feel irritated by the current owner's choice of cheap siding. I allow myself, for just a few moments, to wonder what it would be like to move back to Oklahoma and live in the house of my childhood fantasy.
It's a useless drive, mainly. A waste of time and emotional space. Only it's not. To revisit your very earliest dreams reminds you of your current ones.
Just no lingering.