A visit to my childhood homeBy CAROLE BAILEY,
Who says you can’t go home again? I did today. It’s been 45 years since I lived in my Northeast Jackson home. Hard to believe. I moved in at the age of two. I moved out when I went to Ole Miss as a freshman. I don’t remember my house in California where my mother’s family was from and I was born. But I went back into my childhood home today in Northeast Jackson and even though it was completely rehabbed, I had memories around every corner.
So did Miranda Lambert!
“I know they say you can't go home again I just had to come back one last time. Ma'am, I know you don't know me from Adam but these hand prints on the front steps are mine.”
Yes - where I fell at five and hit a concrete step and scarred my chin to this day. Where our Christmas trees were and my three siblings and I lined up for presents on Christmas mornings; where we celebrated every holiday - Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, not to mention birthdays in the dining room. Every day living outside in the neighborhood we played until dark which meant we had to go home. Playing basketball, capture the flag, flag football, riding our bikes to Maywood Mart and then Highland Village when it was developed. We walked to Spann with the neighborhood kids before integration because we all went to the same school, taking jazz and toe lessons at the Going’s studio with friends like Martha, Carmie and Mona. Where Leisa and I rode our new 10-speed bikes and she had a bike wreck at Riverside and had a concussion and spent the night at St. Dominics.
“Up those stairs in that little back bedroom is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar and I bet you didn't know under that live oak my favorite dog is buried in the yard.”
Yes - many favorite pets are buried in the back yard. We also had a horse pasture behind our house with Tennessee Walkers. We rode those horses around town. I saw a foal born! We had lots of puppies and kittens! We put on Christmas plays on the balcony of the “Old House,” which was another house on my parent’s land. We played in the woods with the chestnut trees and wrapped ourselves unknowingly in poison sumac. I wasn’t allergic, but Carmie was highly allergic. We didn't do that again! Those woods are now developed with beautiful homes!
Memories. Where I fell in the den and broke my wrist (thanks to Bo), my first kiss at the front door (thanks to Bud), among other things like parties on the cul-de-sac when I was a Murrah Miss in high school, sitting on the front steps in the summer with a couple of guy friends (thanks to Skye and Bobby) and a guitar and singing Dan Fogelberg and America songs. So many things - my old bedroom, my old bathroom - refurbished and hardly recognizable - but I knew. I remembered putting on my makeup for the Murrah school play MASH where my role was a hooker. I saw that in my old bathroom today.
“I thought if I could touch this place or feel it this brokenness inside me might start healing. Out here it's like I'm someone else I thought that maybe I could find myself.”
Today was a 360 for me. Even though the house was completely different, I was still there. In the living room where my mother painted Christmas scenes on the front oversized living room window every Christmas year, where I played the piano for years and loved it (thank you Connie Kossen), where the old house behind my house used to be my mother’s art studio, and our Christmas plays on the balcony! Where lots of things happened like spin the bottle, before it was torn down.
They say you can’t go home again. But I say, maybe you can. My last memory was waving goodbye to my Mom as she left for assisted living as the Alzheimer’s progressed. Memories don’t vanish. They are still there. (We do have photographs). But you just have to be willing to see those memories, if only through your mind’s eye. That way, they never go away. And they are yours always.
You can go home again, in your mind. Forever.
Carole Bailey is a Northsider.