We want the terrains of our youth to remain forever as we remember them. For as long as they do, a part of us also remains.
– Tom Stanton, The Final Season
My sister had a question.
She lives in Baton Rouge but might have been in New York the other night when she sent me a text message asking the address of the house we lived in 50 years ago.
I texted back (slowly) not only the address, but also a cross street down the road. I am surprised I remembered any of this, but, as with most old people, my long-term memory is far superior to a mental review of last week.
She THNX’d me, and that was that for a moment, but I was intrigued. Curious. And I had a computer in front of me.
So I punched the address I’d just given her into a search engine, clicked around a few times and there it was – an actual image of the house we’d lived in half a century ago.
Only it was not 1960. It was now.
There was the yard where I used to lay out an imaginary baseball diamond, which I converted to a football field in the fall, courtesy of a homemade goal post crafted from 2-by-4s.
There was the window I’d once broken with a slingshot.
And there was the house that looked smaller (which I had anticipated) but also cramped by trees, which some family who followed us had planted and let grow.
The best part?
This street-level computer mapping function allowed me to see the house from ground level, then head down the street at a slow, jerky pace, not unlike riding a bicycle, which I pretended I was doing as I took the road back to my old elementary school.
This wasn’t as easy because things look different, so I kept converting back to a satellite map view and followed the roads from overhead, occasionally moving back down to street level when I wanted to see what things now looked like.
And I kept going.
For the next hour, I plugged in the addresses of every house I once lived in from age 5. We moved a lot, so there were a lot to see.
I looked at lawns I once mowed, now trimmed by someone else, or shutters I once painted, now showing a different color.
Heck, the houses were different colors, too.
The carports were bricked in to become garages. The gravel driveways were paved. The basketball goals were long gone.
But that was OK because it was a trip, not only down Memory Lane, but Memory Drive, Memory Street, Memory Boulevard and Memory Avenue.
I also looked at the houses of old girlfriends. I looked up my old schools. I looked up places I once worked or held jobs.
It was neat. Try it yourself. You can’t beat the gas mileage.
You can’t beat the memories, either.