How does it feel to go back to the home where you spent your entire childhood, to find that the people living there now had let it slide into a trash pit? Pretty darn bad. The only memories of my childhood were of living in that house. Looking at pictures in my old photo albums, from the time I was an infant, when I was named Deborah Fritz until I graduated from high school, leaves me with a longing to go back and spend a little time in a piece of my life from years ago. They were happy years. My life before I transformed into Sonni Quick
Memories often have a way of filtering out the bad times, leaving only the highlights of the times you want to remember. I think I was fortunate because I remember a childhood that was filled with good times and had parents who spent time creating a family that did family things together. We celebrated all major holidays and birthdays and went camping, took drives for ice cream, had picnics and went to the shore and rode bikes on the boardwalk and jumped in the waves. I have so many pictures that chronicle our life. I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s. I didn’t learn to appreciate it until I was all grown up and far, far away. Then there was no going back. It was over, almost in a blink of an eye.
Many years later, after my own children were grown, with children of their own, I stood in front of our house again. Even after all these years the house still wore the same paint and the street numbers I painted on the front door was still there, although one of the numbers tilted to the side. The paint was dingy, there was trash on the porch and beat up curtains hung at the windows.
The house looks like an Archie Bunker style house, on a numbered street in a neighborhood of street after street of half-a-doubles; two homes connected by a center wall, each set of homes separated by two walkways that led to a back yard. When I stood in the yard I could look left and right through the yards of every home on the block. My Great Nana Ferden grew flowers, but growing up I wasn’t aware of the love she put into them.
The sound of children playing could be heard everywhere. We didn’t want to be inside. That was punishment. We played kickball in the alley or walked a half block to Manatawny Park to play in the splash pool or play box hockey with the big kids. We bounced balls against the wall of the original Dolly Madison Ice Cream Factory across the street. We knew to be home when the street lights came on. Dinner was always the same time and we always at dinner together as a family, something so few children know today.
Today the flowers are gone. The sidewalks down the side of the house are so overgrown you can’t see them. I walked down the alley and looked into the backyard so overgrown and filled with trash. I didn’t want to imagine what the inside of the house looked like. My father had kept everything looking nice. The difference is, when we lived there it was a home with love. Now it was just a house. Probably rented by people who felt no need or desire to keep it looking nice.
If I squinted and looked through my eyelashes I could pretend it was the same place and I had come home. I knocked on the door of the house it connected to. The woman who lived there was the same woman who lived there from the time I was baby until I left for college, 40-some years ago. She peeked through the door, looked me up and down and said, “Who the fuck are you?”
When I walked down the porch steps and went to my car, I turned around for one last look and waved goodbye. Only the ghosts of the past waved back.