"You Can't Go Home Again..."
I had just read an article in the Wall Street Journal about returning to one's childhood home, and I had never even thought to
What I saw on Google Maps was a brand-spanking new (or so it looked to me) polyethylene playground in beautiful colors of red, pink, yellow, blue, green. The playground was full of green trees and some grass, and benches. It was actually pretty; it looked so much more inviting than the one I remember: gray, metallic, with a gravelly ground which you dreaded falling on and skinning your knee, for the pain. Now, it is actually a pretty place:
Because everything is so different in my old neighborhood, I could probably get lost there; my old shul was apparently torn down (I read online that the buildings of both neighborhood shuls, one Orthodox and one Conservative, had been falling into disrepair over the years, and because renovation was so expensive it was deemed not worth it, and both buildings were sold, and subsequently razed.). But my old apartment building is still there, brick as solid as a rock. The steps going down into the courtyard are exactly the same.
Next time I'm in New York--I have no immediate plans, so who knows when that will be--I have to get up the courage to knock on my old door (apartment 3A), and explain to the current tenant why in heck I would want to have a little personal tour of his apartment. Which I'm sure will be so different that I won't even recognize it; it won't be my old place anymore.
When I went back to Israel in 2005 for my first visit since we had left in 1981, my sons and I (this is before they were married) drove to Gilo to try to find our old apartment, in the meduragim (stepped-houses). We actually found it, knocked on the door and asked permission to see it again. The owners were very nice, and allowed us to go in and walk around. I would not have recognized it--it was totally different, including the view (which was no more, it was all built up). They had removed the wall separating the kitchen from the living room, and it was a totally new kitchen (ours had been a beauty, a custom job done by an American friend of ours, long since passed away). It didn't feel like home, although my older son remembered the steps where he had fallen down at age 3 and split his face open. . .not one of our better memories, I'm afraid. Too many complicated feelings.
I guess Thomas Wolfe was right: You can't go home again...