We had an interesting experience on Saturday. In Melbourne for an afternoon wedding, on our way home that evening we decided to have a look at a house we had lived in around thirty-five years ago. When the time came to sell it, we made the usual extra add ons that you do to make a property more valuable (you hope). It was always a sore point with me that the carport was constructed to sell the house and we didn’t really get to use it much before we left.
So we expected there to be a few changes, perhaps there would be a front fence, or the carport may have given way to a garage. The gravel replaced by paving, or the front garden re-landscaped. So we drove along the street, not recognising it because it had changed so much. The saplings in the nature strips had been replaced by fully grown trees, some with diameters of eighteen inches. The street seemed narrower than before, most likely because the saplings had grown making it look narrower. Then we pulled up across from the house and our jaws dropped.
There was car parked on the front lawn — how they managed to get it there was intriguing; the gravel is the same although I’m sure the driveway is smaller now. The ‘garden’ was overgrown and I don’t think it’s been looked at seriously in the past thirty years! An air-conditioning unit has been installed in the middle of the red brick front wall of the house and it stands out like a sore thumb. Fences are falling down. We sat there in silence, wondering how the house could look so different from our memories.
Now I know that things change, and I expected change, but not the extreme deterioration we viewed. So it got me thinking about other memories.
Am I guilty of romanticising some of my other memories? Do I remember them with rose tinted glasses? Places and things can be remembered fondly, but revisiting them may be an eye-opener in the reality arena.
Obviously I am unable to see what someone looks like today when they’ve been dead for years, but in some ways it might be better to remember them as they were because the reality of today may be hard to accept.
Perhaps I need to re-think my goal of going back to Hawaii. I had such a great holiday there some years ago, that I wanted to go again. Maybe the reality won’t be anywhere near as good as the memory, so I’m probably better off choosing a new destination to make memories in. I think that we often suffer from selective memory syndrome, where places and things seem much better than they really are.
So I’ve decided that I’m going to be very careful about re-visiting places that I view very fondly, and with people and loved ones, it surely must be better to keep the memories as they are.