My mother and step-dad are in the process of selling their house, my childhood home. I lived there for 22 years from when I was 6 months old. I wonder how I'm going to feel when it's actually sold. Right now I'm not feeling overly sentimental. The home I remember from my early childhood has long since slipped away.
The first seven years, before my mother remarried, were the best. The house was a cute little 3-bedroom, built just after WWII. We had a sheltered front porch with an overhang; a big, open back deck; a big backyard; and a bay window in the dining room.
When my step-dad moved in, the first thing he did was renovate the house. He chopped off the back wall and put on a two-story addition (basement and first floor). The renovation took months and for some time we had to live with my grandparents. Everything ran late and over budget. The contractor (a "friend" of the family) hired incompetent workers and used cheap materials. Later on we had a bug problem in the basement. Eventually when the walls were opened up to deal with a plumbing leak, we found that the construction workers had shoved their lunch garbage into the walls to rot, which is what attracted all the bugs.
Everything familiar and pretty about the house was ripped up and changed. The wood-framed bay window was replaced by a flat modern window whose metal frame rusted. The sofa set, which had been upholstered in a sweet floral pattern, was replaced with a sofa set upholstered in a ghastly poopy-brown. The new back deck was ugly, and the backyard was cut down to half its former size. It was all horrible, cheap-looking, dark, and unpleasant.
The atmosphere in the house also changed after my step-dad moved in. My mom, step-dad and I fought almost constantly. If we weren't fighting, we were sulking and avoiding each other. All my memories of the house in that incarnation are bad ones.
Just after I moved out at age 23, my folks re-decorated, so it looked a little more cheerful. When that happened, I lost the feeling that it was "my" house. None of my memories matched up with the new decor.
The neighbourhood has also vastly changed since 1973. Back in the day it was a suburb, or at least a mid-urb. Now uptown is the new downtown. There is a mall, lots of office buildings, high rise condos and rental appartments, and most of the family-owned businesses have been replaced by chain stores. Traffic is terrible. It's grimy and crowded. There are more and more monster homes on the side streets. I feel the area has lost much of its former charm.
I may get teary and nostalgic once the house is sold, but right now I feel that this move is happening at the right time, perhaps even a little later than it should have. I can't wait to see how the house looks when the staging makeover is complete. That will be wild!