Friday, September 23, 2011

frayed and flaky around the edges



I always wondered, though, what the fathers felt as they drove up the street they used to drive down every night, and whether they really saw their former houses, whether they noticed how things got frayed and flaky around the edges now that they were gone. 

I wondered it again as I pulled up to the house I’d grown up in. It was, I noticed, looking even more Joad-like than usual. Neither my mother nor the dread life partner, Tanya, was much into yard work, and so the lawn was littered with drifts of dead brown leaves. The gravel on the driveway was as thin as an old man’s hair combed across an age-spotted scalp, and as I parked I could make out the faint glitter of old metal from behind the little toolshed. 

We used to park our bikes in there. Tanya had “cleaned” it by dragging all the old bikes, from tricycles to discarded ten-speeds, out behind the shed, and leaving them there to rust. “Think of it as found art,” my mother had urged us when Josh complained that the bike pile made us look like trailer trash. I wonder if my father ever drove by, if he knew about my mother and her new situation, if he thought about us at all, or whether he was content to have his three children out there in the world, all grown up, and strangers.

--Jennifer Weiner, Good in Bed

click to embiggen

images: abandoned farm, Dublin, Ohio

37 comments:

  1. It looks a bit like my séchoir.

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  2. Tess,
    akin to tombstones; testaments to a life lived.
    rel

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  3. Returning to old worlds can be a disturbing journey! I tried it once and barely recognised my own street! My childhood home .... where there once were gardens... was markedly bare with overgrown lawns and a tacky coloured front fence! I couldn't look any further! I just drove on!

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  4. It is said you can't go home again, I think this is true. There is nothing left of when you knew it, maybe better to look at what other people abandon... there are no personal memories there...

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  5. It is gripping to see images of the places we onced lived as children. I saw a photograph years ago of where I used to live in Habana. The memories rushed in painful waves. Not only can you not go back, but daring to do so, is at your own risk.

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  6. I have returned, on occasion, to those places where I grew up. Sometimes it's out of curiosity, sometimes out of need - always guaranteed to bring on a tingle or two.

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  7. Beautiful images and interesting words too.

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  8. what stories those walls would tell...amazing

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  9. So sad those walls...interesting story (I hadn't heard of the author). Thank you.

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  10. I'm fortunate that my dad still lives in my childhood home. But my grandparents' home is gone now. It makes me sad, but I think I might be sadder to see other people living in their house. For now it's a peaceful kudzu covered hill (the development company that bought the property & razed the house & barns apparently ran out of money).

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  11. What beautiful images! For me ther is some thing romantic about these old abandoned buildings....

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  12. Wow, neat picture. Enjoyable prose selection too! Thanks for these -

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  13. I love how you take a spectacular photo and tweak it into something even more with provocative words --

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  14. I remember going back to the home in which I grew up.
    Of course, it was no longer there. It had been torn down and replaced by something much, much bigger.
    Sigh!

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  15. I didnt know of this book or author so thanks. the photos are wonderful. love that patinaed siding.

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  16. Poignant convergence of pictures, the impersonal wondering brought to the personal. I felt a sharp pang reading this and teared up. Not sure why, but it was in a good way. That's what writing can do. Really quite wonderful, I think, Tess.

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  17. Sad, abandoned, yet noble,
    the shed stands solidly
    from the front. The story is
    so captivating, I fully expected
    to find an image of the rusted
    bicycles and tricycles, and was
    reeling at the knowledge that
    your dear mother was a lesbian.
    Nice fake out, nicer images.

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  18. I like these images Tess..Abandoned by people but not by nature. Owls and little mammals nest quietly in hidden places forgotten by industrious minds and hands.
    Needs,wants and desires satisfied and not temporary as ourselves.
    Cheers!

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  19. yeah, it can happen to people
    not just old barns

    ...

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  20. More fine patina on those pld boards!

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  21. Memories and reality...always a conundrum.....xv

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  22. However dilapidated the old house is it touched a corner of the heart recollecting the old days. It bled a little with nostalgic charms. It happened to me once! Thanks Tess!

    Hank

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  23. I grew up on Weesterville Road-- in the country nirth of town then-- twenty acres of woods, streams, and fields. A large beautiful old farm house previously owned by a college professor who had turned the inside into a scholar's abode with a den and filled bookshelves everywhere. There was a two car garage at the end of a gravel driveway. Oo one side of the garage was a one room + bath apartment. On the other side was a workshop. The yard was over an acre with a grape arbor on one side that led to a path winding down a heavily wooded steep hill. I can remember each sprained wrist I had from running off the path on my sled and slamming into a young sapling. I can also remember the thrill of making it all the way to the bottom and each time running further across the flat field, coming precariously closer to the ridge that dropped into the creek. None of it's there any more. The 20acres were turned into low income housing years ago, and the only thing that remained in the middle of overgrown lawn was the empty house and garage. Thanks for calling up the memory.

    I bought your book by the way and am enjoying reading it.

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  24. Love your shared story, and the Grandpa's rekindled memories too. You always pose and prose a great page. :)
    Big hugs to you!

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  25. Grandpa, yes, I know just were that is on Westerville Road, I think. Sad when lovely places are turned into housing. Thanks for sharing that memory and also for your kind support for my book.

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  26. Suz, sadly, you are so very right...

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  27. I always wonder too, when going through the old neighborhood, and the ones others lived in, and those in the present even more desperate then when the old neighborhood was thought of as new.

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  28. Thanks for the introduction to Jennifer Weiner. The photos drew me here and I enjoyed the excerpt.

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  29. Such an evocative piece- the photo and the quote. I will have to borrow the term "the dread life partner." I will come back to read it again a few times. Love it.

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  30. VERY meaningful passage Tess.
    “Think of it as found art”
    the place has to die (in us) to see it that way?
    the beginnings of a thought that I had.
    I am drawn to the place you have created in my mind with this post.
    thank you.

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  31. First, what a gorgeous old barn!

    Second, the people who bought my childhood home completely and in all ways destroyed it. Pulled every living thing (that my mom had taken 24 years of care to cultivate) out of the ground and gardens, and spread white rocks over everything. They chopped off the gables and made the front of the house a flat wall. They removed the cedar shingles, and put up siding, and installed ridiculous looking porthole windows.

    I hate them.

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  32. When you're selling a house you know instantly whether or not you would like the viewers to live there after you. Simple: when someone you don't take to is walking around, boil cabbage! When someone you do take to is walking around, roast some coffee beans under the grill. Guaranteed to work every time!

    In 2006 on a trip to the UK, after 30 years, I revisited houses I'd lived in, in a certain area when we had to come back 'to base'. Everything was so much smaller than I remembered. Thankfully all but one was in pristine condition but it didn't really matter because they were army 'quarters' some having been sold off to private developers. I just treasured the memories some sad, others not but nostalgia was a heavy part of that weekend.

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  33. If only those boards could speak!
    Sorry I missed your birthday, many happy returns of the day belatedly!

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  34. Thank you, Arija, but you didn't miss my birthday...it's not until October 20.

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  35. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Absolutely beautiful!

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  36. Oh whoa, I thought this was from you first and was thinking, "hang on! It couldn't have aged that much yet!"

    Lovely photos and haunting muse.

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)