I’m feeling the nostalgia big time. Grieving a place.
I’m happy for my parents and their new (to them), bigger house (with a pool) near Canyon Lake, TX, just an 80-mile drive from their old house (my house) where they’d lived since 1989, in the city of Round Rock. Yet I’m mourning the fact that never ever will I ever again go to the house on Oakridge Drive in Round Rock West.
I lived there from age 8 to 18. We moved there during the traumatic end of my third grade year, which was completed at the nearby McNeil High School annex instead of at our school, Double File Trail Elementary, which had been damaged in a tornado on the morning of a school day, in April 1989. I moved out to attend UT-Austin and live in a dorm all of 20 minutes away from my folks’ house.
I moved back in with my parents twice, at age 24 and 25. Both times I felt like a complete failure, a loser, lame. Both times were for a matter of about three months. Now I look at the US culture and see almost everyone moving out at age 18 as kind of crazy. In Latin America, families remain much more bonded (and often cohabitate) throughout life, as a rule.
I feel sad yet I know that the memories of the house will live on within me. I remember going to see the house while we were house-hunting. I remember liking it, despite the horrible brown shag carpet it had (burnt orange upstairs). I remember the spacious backyard with big trees and ivy vines. I remember climbing the magnolia tree. I remember the forts we played in, and the sandbox my younger brother and sister played in. I remember the above-ground pool for hot Texas summers and jumping in (cannonball!) and making whirlpools in it. I remember birthday parties, badminton and barbecues. I remember all the cats and dogs we had and lost there, to old age or being hit by cars. The hamsters, fish and parakeets. I remember starting my yoga practice on the blue carpeting of my bedroom, before it was changed to fake-wood flooring. When it was painted three shades of Pepto-Bismol pink. I remember practicing asana and prayanama and meditation, following the directions and illustrations in the 1969 paperback. I remember drinking wine coolers and trying cigarettes with Vanessa in my bedroom upstairs, blowing the smoke out the window screen like idiots. I remember Christmases and Thanksgivings, Halloweens and Easters. I remember watching movies and eating chips and salsa and drinking diet soda. I remember joy riding and getting caught red-handed when I pulled into the driveway and my parents pulled in right behind me. I remember the lush, lovely backyard landscape and how it grew and changed over the years. I remember the hot tub. I remember getting the positive pregnancy test result in the upstairs bathroom. I remember bringing my baby daughter home for a visit. I remember bringing my Colombian man to my childhood home. I remember cleaning out the closets, going through junk and mementos and memories. I remember putting all my childhood journals into my dad’s old red suitcase. I remember the miscarriage in that same damn bathroom. I remember thinking, as I was leaving, will this be the last time I’ll be here? And doubting it, because my parents had been talking about moving for years…
But it was. The last time. Mom and Dad bought their other house in February. Right before they came to Guatemala to visit us for two weeks. Which was right before the whole world went cockeyed.
They are selling 1606 Oakridge now. The movers came yesterday. The official closing is in early August. The new owners will soon invade the space that held my family’s life and memories for the past 31 years.
I will remember it fondly, as it was. Even the garage. Even the tiny half bathroom. Even the shed in the backyard. Even every square inch of the place.
This move also cuts my ties to my Round Rock roots. We moved there in 1985, when I was five years old. I have a few friends who still live there, and I will probably visit someday but it obviously won’t be where we’re based anymore. My parents’ new place is closer to San Antonio than Austin. Honestly, Round Rock (and Austin) have somewhat lost their charm to me, due to having known them when they were quainter, more unique towns. The massive population growth over the past 30 years has changed things for the worse, in my opinion.
It’s also cutting deep, emotionally, because my parents are getting up there (pushing 70), which means they’re going to die, and I’m going to die, and we’re all going to die. Which is sad and unpleasant to think about, despite the fact that I’ve done a lot of work around accepting change and death over the years and think I have made some progress. Still, one can never really be prepared to lose their parents, right? Or to die. We want to hold onto life.
While I am getting slightly antsy and feeling an urge to travel, maybe, in a few months, to Mexico and Texas, when I look around, I see such beauty. Such brilliant shades of blue and green. This lake, her volcanoes, the ever-changing sky. The birds and lizards and flowers and clouds and all of it. My home is in my heart. And I am grateful and I am content.