Recently, my husband and I went “home” again. Not the home we share “now,” we go there everyday. This is the home we shared “then”…
After a brief apartment stay, this was the home we first lived in after we were married. The home we bought with Cliff’s sister and brother-in-law, because neither of us could afford one on our own. The home we brought our babies home to and the home we raised them in until they were almost all teenagers. The home our children shared with their 6 cousins, three of them the same age as they were. The home of movie nights, maze tag, Grandpa Howard days, and long hikes up to the top of Tourne Mountain. The home of 13 people, 2 bathrooms, a dog, a cat, some hamsters that could eat their way through glass, and a couple of bedrooms with no closets. The home where all the neighbors knew there were 9 children living in that house and none of them went to school. They had no idea who belonged to who, but welcomed us to their close-knit, mostly-related, neighborhood just the same.
Cliff’s sister, husband and 6 children lived upstairs with a mudroom downstairs and the closed in porch. We lived in the rest of the downstairs. Now, they live in the whole house having bought it from us when we decided to move to Florida. There are only 4 people living in it now. Much of it is different, but much of it is the same. The home is no longer “ours,” but the memories will always belong to us. Precious memories never really go away. They settle in the recesses of our mind until they are recalled by a certain smell, a particular song, or in our case, a visit.
Now, before I become overwhelmingly nostalgic, let me say that going “home” can also lead to other things, like not realizing how much or in what way certain things have changed. Aside from visiting and staying with family, we also made plans to share a dinner with some old friends. I set everything up for them to meet us in Boonton since we had to borrow a car. I’d Googled and found that the old Boonton Train Station, a place we had driven by on numerous occasions had been renovated into a restaurant. It was close to where we were, had a good menu, and looked like a nice place. So, I asked our friends to meet us there that Friday night and they agreed. When we arrived at my sister-in-law’s I, very fortunately, mentioned that we’d be eating out on Friday and then I told her where. She was quiet for a moment, almost contemplative as she told us, “I think that’s a gay bar.”
I guess it’s kind of weird, but I almost thought of not telling our friends and meeting them there anyway. I thought it might be kind of exciting and really funny. After all, I’d never been to a gay bar and my sister-in-law did say, “it may have changed.” But, my conscience got the better of me and so, I turned to Google. Google confirmed that it was indeed a gay bar, in fact, it is the only gay bar outside of Bergen County or New York City! And, of course, I found it. I texted our friends and told them we should probably change our venue. They laughed and agreed. We met at a very nice restaurant; the type that New Jersey is famous for, the quintessential New Jersey Diner. It was a wonderful time of catching up and, for at least two of us, an opportunity to compare hearing aids. You know you’re old when you have a good time comparing hearing aids. Strangely enough, the two of us that wear them, are the two loudest in the group. I’m thinking we probably made ourselves deaf.
The following day we thought we would walk up Tourne Mountain for old times sake, that is until I realized that where we live in Florida is mostly flat and I was fairly certain that my dear husband, though he loves me, would not want to carry me piggy-back up a mountain for a mile. Especially since, as he says, we are in the same wrestling weight class. Not that we wrestle, but that’s what he says. And so, we walked “through” the park without walking “up” the mountain. That night was spent with all of my sister-in-laws family. Five of the six kids, three of those with spouses, and a few children thrown in for good measure. No worry of our location and what we might encounter, as it was their dining room. Good food, good fellowship, great family. The stuff that life is made of, always. Because everything else is just really not that big a deal!