Won't take nothin' but a memory...

We lived on a lovely street in McLean,Virginia.   

We moved there from Nice, France when my father was re-assigned to the Pentagon.  Our family made our way across the country on a large ocean liner, and my sister and I wore French bathing suits that consisted of bottoms only.   (Yeah. Thanks, mom.) 

We moved to Lemon Road in the sixties.  We spent what we all agree were the best years of our lives there laughing and bonding with neighbors who were more like family. We celebrated every holiday in the large expanse of a backyard with most of the neighbors; barbecuing, playing tag, volleyball, catching fireflies and torturing each other while our parents sipped martinis and laughed loudly until well into each night.  They really, really were the best days.

I went to Virginia several weeks ago and my awesome cousin invited me to stay with his family for a night.  

"I know you're busy, but please stay with us at least one night. We'll come home from our trip early, have you for dinner, you can stay the night and then zip home the next morning."

I was so touched by his offer and so excited to spend time with them that I immediately said YES! 

Not long after I arrived at his gorgeous (gulp) home and after laughing and chatting with his family he looked at me.   "Well, Vodkamom, are you ready?" 

"For what?" 

"To go to Lemon Road, " he said with a smile.   Yes.  Oh yes, I was ready. 

I stood, grabbed my purse, shoved it full of courage and followed him out to his car.   I buckled up, trying to wrap my emotions into a neat little ball that wouldn't explode upon impact. 

It took five minutes to get there.   (Which was not nearly enough time to finish the to-go cup he had so thoughtfully prepared for me.)

Five minutes to reach the one place on earth that held my most precious memories.  

Five minutes. 

He parked the car across the street and we slowly walked up the driveway.  "Are you going to knock on the door?" He asked in a surprised voice.  

"Yes I am." I replied.  "I have to."

The young woman who answered the door smiled at me as I tried to explain who I was. 

"I know you!" She said.  "We emailed each other after a friend of mine from your hometown sent me a column where you mentioned our house!  Remember?  I am so glad you are here!  Do you want to come in? We're packing for our move to London, but we'll be renting our house for two years until we return. This is going to be our house for a long, long time." 

My cousin (Clyde) and I followed her through the house as she chatted about their plans.  I gazed around in wonder, wrapped in a time-warp I was unable to evade.  

I saw my mother baking cookies and my father smoking his pipe in the living room while reading the paper.  I could hear the sounds of a long-ago childhood and it melted my heart.   

We walked out the back door to the yard that led to the creek.  I stood quietly and Clyde turned to me. 

"I'm going to take a short walk to the creek, if that's okay," I said to them softly.  "I'll be back in a minute." 

"Are you going to cry, vodka?" 

"Yep.  I'm pretty sure I am." 

I walked slowly down the hill towards the creek, releasing the tears that had been hiding behind my eyelids since I entered the house.   I didn't try to put a name on the tears that flowed, but allowed them to run their course.  They flowed as I stared at the creek, glanced either way through the neighborhood as my eyes reached out to steal back my memories, and back up at the back of the house that held me for those lovely years.

(My father built the deck, seat around the tree and the railing along the hill.)

(Oh, Clyde.  You KNEW I would cry...)

Yes Miranda Lambert, you always say everything so well. But this song?  It's the one I was humming as we drove slowly away from Memory Lane.   

And again, I wipe the tears. 


Unknown said...

What a beautiful post - and how is that I've never heard that song, big big too hard to swallow lump in my throat.............

Sue said...

Okay, you got a few tears out of me. What a beautiful song, with beautiful words. You know, after my folks passed away, my middle daughter, Katie and her husband, were able to buy that house. My little Bodhi, my grandson, has the same small room that me and my sister shared as kids. Funny, I wrote a blog post yesterday about "the old Magnolia Tree" that my Dad planted when I was little.There is a picture of me under it. We all celebrated the 4th of July under that tree last night. I am so blessed to this old house still be a part of my family. Beautiful post my friend!

Take care,

Brian Miller said...

what a cool opportunity...parents are still in my house i grew up in but my grammas old house is def the one i would love to visit..

ChiTown Girl said...

Oh, good Lord, I should have known better than the read the whole post. I couldn't bring myself to watch the video, though. Mostly because I couldn't see the "play" button through my tears.

Your cousin rocks. But, then again, look who he's related to!

Japolina said...

Dear Vodkamom... you know I love you but if you want your blog to remain anonymous you shouldn't put the address of where you grew up. Great post though.


Mrs. E said...

That song is amazing. Got to me the first time I heard it...and every time since. Trips down memory lane? A catharsis?

noexcuses said...

What an incredible experience! I'm so glad you said "yes" to the sleepover, and a bug hug to your cousin for taking you over to the house!

Tears of joy have no limits. For me, these are the tears that God gives me, just when I need them!

Great pictures - thanks so much for sharing such a special event!

notme said...

Wow. Just Wow.

I hope our children feel the same way about our home as you and Miranda.

Thanks for the moving post, VM.

Pam Schmidt said...

Oh VM,
I'm new to reading your stuff, and was caught totally off guard by the tenderness of this post!!!!
I follow the photo-a-day challenge on Fat Mum Slim. She recently moved and wrote about it.
My comments were that everyone needs to say "good-bye" to the house that they are leaving. This has been a haven, and friend, a safe place for the family. The very least that we need to do is acknowledge all of that as we leave. Did you thank this house & say good-bye?

Vodka Mom said...

Yes, Pam. Yes I did.


libby said...

Hi...I'm a new reader of your posts....and this first one? just lovely...I'm a little teary eyed now ..but in a good way.. thanks.

Mrs BC said...

What a beautifully written post! You've made me cry :)

One crazed mommy said...

I've been reading your posts for a while, but never comment...but this post touched me and brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful post -glad you got to take the trip down memory lane. It's a bittersweet pill, but so worth it when given the opportunity.

elisabeth said...

I have no idea how I came across your blog but I eagerly look forward to your posts. They always brighten my day!

Kathy at kissing the frog said...

Goosebumps reading this post. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

Julie D said...

What a lovely post. I drive past the house I grew up in whenever I'm back in my hometown (which is every few years). And I feel the exact same....

Anonymous said...

When that song was on the top of the charts a couple of years ago, I was moving back in to the house that I grew up in. I had inherited it from my father.

It was just as hot then as it is now... Just me and my 4runner. A couple of runs of boxes in the morning while it was "cool," one run then pack more boxes in the evening. A couple of runs w/ a friend and her van for larger pieces. That move sucked! grin

But that song... Oh, that song...


Unknown said...

I'm all choked up! What a wonderful treat by your cousin though!

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous post, it made me cry thinking of my childhood home in a college town in Indiana. And then I also had to laugh as I realized your childhood home is 3 minutes from where we live now, on the same streeet as my daughter's friend.

Lynn said...

I have knocked on the door and visited the House that built me two times in the past 40 years. Both times it was a hair standing on end experience. It is simply indescribable. You made me relive it today.
I just may have to blog about it soon.

A Speckled Trout said...

One day, I was outside painting kitchen cabinets and this guy pulled up, got out and asked if he could take a couple of pictures as the house I now own was the one he grew up in. Heck, yeah, I said and brought him inside for a tour. He thanked me over and over.

We all leave pieces of ourselves where we live. It was an honor for me to have him come for a visit.

Thanks for this lovely tribute to home.

Zerohearts said...

A lovely and touching post.
This reminds me of my dad T_T
but memories are forever and that will have to do for now.

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