Friday, March 4, 2011


I was in Omaha, Nebraska today for business.  It used to be a weekly thing when I lived in Lincoln, just 45 miles away.

I had a little extra time and decided to take a look at our old neighborhood.  I bought my first house in Lincoln in 1979, when I was just 22.  A few years later, we built a house in the same area.

So, I wanted to see what happened in the thirty years or so since those days.  I pulled into the subdivision, and I really didn’t recognize much.  I did remember the street names, so that helped.

Gradually, I came up to the first house.  I think we paid $51,000 for it back then.  I remember mowing the lawn cross ways like they do in the baseball stadiums.  We planted red and white petunias, lots of them.  We played catch in the yard.  We planted trees.  We knew our neighbors.  We had cookouts. 

It was a dump.  How disappointing, the house I first loved fell into disrepair.  What used to be a cute little neighborhood turned into tract housing with little regard for maintenance or care.  I felt a little defeated, like the part of me that cared for that home meant nothing.

I went to the second house.  Same thing.  We planted these great trees.  I built a wood fence and painted it.  More flowers.  We built a two tiered deck for parties.  It was really nice in a nice neighborhood. 

When I saw graffiti painted on a little shed on the back, I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I had to leave.

I wish I wouldn’t have gone.  I wish my memories of those houses were those of 10:00 this morning instead of 1:00 this afternoon.   


  1. I'm so sorry. There's little that's more sad than revisiting part of your past and having it be nothing like you remember. But the good memories remain. They haven't been permanently overwritten.

    I've been by my childhood home once since we moved, when I was 18. The tree I planted (a maple, grown from helicopter seed) was still in the backyard. I hope it's still there.

  2. The neighborhood I grew up in was a lot like the one from The Wonder Years. Last year an immigrant college graduate student was shot in his driveway, his father inside thinking he had heard firecrackers. His brother found him dead around 7pm. Another student, just days away from his high school graduation, was shot in front of the restaurant my Mom used to take us to lunch on our birthdays. You can't go home again, isn't that what they say?

    A lot of this gets blamed on race. I blame racism. If the folks in my town hadn't moved at the first sight of our first African American neighbor, it would still be a great neighborhood. Ironically, many in that childhood neighborhood came from a neighborhood in the city that they fled as well.

    Yeah, it's not pretty when I go home either, but my memories remain intact.