(Final sentence of The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald [ISBN-13: 978-0-7432-7356-5])
I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I waited until the age of 62 to first read that classic novel.
And, as luck would have it, I read this last sentence on the very night that I had done a real estate closing which required me to meet the other paralegal in the village where I grew up.
After the closing, I decided to drive through the little village, eventually passing the street my childhood house was on. Frankly, I was shocked at how dilapidated and dirty the buildings and streets looked. I certainly don’t remember them being like that when I was little. By the time I got to my childhood street, I was too depressed to even drive past the house I had lived in with my parents and brothers.
Not that the neighborhood I live in now is that much different. It’s in a town rather than a village, but both are suburban. Probably when my kids come home, they think the same thing I did: “OMG, I grew up in THIS house?!”
I remember being sick as a toddler and my mom taking me to the doctor. The doctor seemed to me like a huge and intimidating man. As an adult, I got sick and went back to the same doctor, and only then realized he was actually shorter and thinner than I am and quite personable.
As a child, I had my own bedroom (a real treat in the 1950s when the post-war-built houses were all so small). I remember thinking the 10’ x 12’ room was palatial and glamorous. Now I own a whole house and yard, and consider it merely cozy, and never mind what I would call my decorating scheme after raising 3 kids and 3 dogs, along with assorted other critters.
As a child, I thought my parents had unlimited funds, and I could never understand why I couldn’t have that doll/game/toy that I wanted right now. Many decades later, I understand completely.
As a child, it never occurred to me that my mother wouldn’t always be there to help me through difficult times. As a child, it never occurred to me that I, myself, might someday become ill and die. As a child, I would never have accepted either scenario. Maturity has brought me an understanding and acceptance of both illness and death.
Would I ever want to return to my childhood? Possibly. But only for a short day-trip. I don’t miss the insecurity of childhood. I don’t miss having no real say in daily activities, meals, bedtime or bathtime. And while I admit it was nice having a mommy to take care of me, I much prefer standing on my own two feet and overcoming my own obstacles.
Sometimes memories are best kept as memories. I doubt that I will revisit my little village again any time soon.
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