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A Trip Down Memory Lane

February 1, 2019

I should be writing about my move, about my new home… but first I need a moment to remember and mourn all the places I’ve ever lived.

Well. Not quite all of them.

I don’t remember the first place I lived, as a baby. My memories start in Little House, though when we left it, I was too little to remember much of it. Eating chives in the garden, climbing a tree with my father, herbs drying in the attic… I remember the garden better than the house, and that only in disconnected images. The last I remember of that time is a vague feeling of being in the car with my father, in the dark, moving our beds to our new home.

I was too little to miss it, too – if I was sad when we moved away, those feelings have faded along with the memories of living there.

a blonde toddler, dressed in white, is standing by a redcurrant bush
There are no photos of the things I remember, and I don’t remember any of the things my parents took photos of.

Sour Cream Street I remember better, the heavy wooden furniture in the dining room, pelargoniums and passion flowers on the balcony, all the places I played, in the apartment and in the yard with my friends. The smell of geraniums on the balcony, and pulling on the tendrils of my mother’s passion flower… climbing the pine tree, creeping around in the thicket we called the Witch’s Forest…

I don’t miss that place as such, either, but I guess I do miss being small enough that the pantry was big enough to play in, young enough to build houses out of mattresses and curtains, free enough to wander around the neighbourhood with my friends…

I just realised that I don’t remember what all my toys were called. I still have Brummbär, though without the blue dress now, and leaning on his shoulder is Knautschi, and the doll behind my head was called Heidiho, but the rag doll? The brown teddy? The elephant? No idea.

I guess that was what hurt to leave behind when we moved – my friends. Well, one of them and her sisters had already moved away by then, an insurmountable distance of twenty kilometers… I laugh about that now, but when you’re ten and wholly dependent on your parents (and when you’re too scared of telephones to call even your best friend) that might as well be half a world away. (And then my other friend and her sister moved 600 km away and to a different country, so our group was well and truly torn up.)

I remember walking down towards the parking lot with my mother and my brothers, with my backpack filled with my treasures, on our way to House on the Hill.

But before I think about that place, I also want to give a honourable mention to the Old Garden, where we never lived, never even spent a night, but it still figures prominently in my memories of those years. That was where I started to learn how to grow vegetables, but also bravely defended some stinging nettles against my father, because “the butterflies need them!”

(“Oh!” said the neighbour, when my father informed him that this is why he was not pulling out the last nettles next to the vegetable patch. “You have butterflies?!”)

For all my brave defense of the nettles, I don’t actually remember seeing butterflies or caterpillars there.

The Old Garden would be a place worth missing, but since we got another, even larger garden after that, I never did.

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