Growth Spurts: Driving Down Memory Lane
By Carrie Bevell Partridge
Recently some friends and I got together near my old hometown. At the close of our reunion, I decided to make the old, familiar drive from my high school to the house that I lived in with my family from the time I was in sixth grade until college. It’s the last house that all seven of my family members lived in together.
That drive takes more than half an hour, and it’s been more than two decades since I’ve driven it myself. I was amazed at how easily it all came back to me; I think muscle memory took over my driving. As I drove and looked around, I was overwhelmed with nostalgia. I passed by streets where my friends used to live, houses where I used to babysit, the church building I spent so much time in, the convenience store where my Dad often stopped to buy us breakfast on the way to school (chicken biscuits and chocolate milk!), the salon where I used to get my hair cut, the place where we used to rent movies on VHS tapes, Sonic (which used to be the only fast food restaurant in town!), the old grocery store where I used to work, the bank where I opened my first checking account as a teenager. I even saw Pizza Hut, which was quite the novelty back when I lived there. You see, the only time we could get Pizza Hut delivery in my town all those years ago was on Tuesday nights. And you had to meet the delivery guy in a particular parking lot at a certain time to get your pizza. So seeing an actual Pizza Hut restaurant in town was pretty exciting.
Modes and methods of obtaining Pizza Hut pizza aren’t the only things that have changed in and around my former hometown. Once-open fields are now filled with houses or businesses, and “the country” is not really “the country” anymore. However, as I got past the downtown area and drove further toward my old house, it started feeling more like home. The business signs became fewer; the kudzu became thicker; and the roads became narrower. As I turned onto my street, I was shocked (pleasantly so) to see that so much looked the same as it did 25 years ago. And there it was: my old house! It is a different color now, but the structure and the yard looked the same. Although the pine trees that my Dad and brother planted along the driveway are now huge, the driveway itself remains unchanged (i.e. unpaved). Hoping that the present occupants of the house were not looking out the windows, I sat and stared at the house as long as I could–memories flooding my mind. Memories of sharing a room with my sister, eating meals together as a family, watching TV together, sitting in front of the fireplace, preparing and waiting for Christmas mornings, doing homework, taking care of pets, getting ready for dates, laying out (i.e. burning) in the backyard, reading on the front porch, listening to music on my jambox, talking to my Mom in the kitchen. So many significant memories from an important time in my life. Not all of the memories are wonderful, but I am thankful that the good ones overshadow the sad ones most of the time.
As I drove away from that house, I allowed my mind to start the transition back to present day and life. Three hours away, I had my own family with five kids waiting for me. And I wondered what kinds of memories will flood their minds 25 years from now. What traditions, conversations, daily rituals, and interactions will have had the most impact on them? It will probably be slightly different for each of them, but I pray that the heart of our home and the good memories are mutual. And I pray that we will make the most of the time we have left with all seven of us living in the same house.