My grandparents lived in this town you would never choose to live in unless you had a very good reason. It's got terrible air pollution, the tap water smells like rotten eggs, and the air reeks of cow dung.
But what that town was, was halfway between their daughters' homes. And they had friends there. So they bought the yellow house on the corner with the swimming pool and Grandpa kept the lawn putting-green short and babied a giant orange tree in the backyard and all of us spent many a holiday and hot summer in that home.
My feet remember the most about that place. I have tactile memory of every underfoot surface. The carpet, the linoleum in the kitchen and bathrooms, the tub with the nonslip stickers stuck to the bottom, the hot concrete in the backyard, the raked dirt around the orange tree, the scratchy bottom of the pool, the tile in the back room, the rock hearth.
It's almost always a bad idea to go back and look at a place that isn't yours anymore. Because you treasure the way things were, some irrational part of you subconsciously thinks whoever has your place now is going to treasure them, too. But inevitably they do not.
And if it can be avoided, I would not go back to look at a place that isn't yours anymore directly following a trip to the cemetery. Unless you're a masochist, which I've always been a bit of.
Grandpa would not appreciate the state of the yard, nor the fact that the giant orange tree is nowhere to be seen. There are a lot of changes -- the woman who bought it won some large settlement for something or the other, and apparently she's in full swing with renovations.
And at first I was terribly sad and angry, which is a normal, but irrational response. It's not ours any more and of course someone would want to make the house their home. It's their home, not ours. May it be the site of many happy memories for them.
Grandpa is gone a year now and Grandma is in assisted living, still in the same town, where all her friends are. We float around the town, untethered, trying to find a comfortable spot to relax for a moment. A restaurant. The Native American casino. A coffee shop. Christmas was spent in a motel conference room. None of it's ours, and all of it feels temporary, which bothers me. Matriarchs and patriarchs are taken away and there are cracks in the family, dark lines running like highways for hundreds of miles through places where no one would choose to live.