I lived two of my undergraduate college years in a farmhouse from the 19th century a few minutes from my school. While out in Jenison, Michigan this evening, I took the back roads instead of the expressway in order to drive by my old house. I’ve lived a lot of places for a year here or a couple years there, but of none have I taken ownership like I did the farmhouse. My old college roommate and I still talk about it like it’s the happening place, “Remember when we bought that plastic stuff for the windows during the winter?” “Remember when everyone would meet at the Farmhouse before going line dancing at The Bresa?” “Remember when we spent half the day shoveling the driveway at the Farmhouse?” The moment anyone says the word, it takes me back and I’m living the glory days of the Farmhouse on Fillmore Street again.
When I drove past tonight, it was dark. There aren’t any street lights near the curve in the road where that house still, miraculously, stands. Across the street, a speedy two-lane road, there’s a relatively new housing development. Huge mansion type places with rich, young families inside. They back up to a man-made lake with pristine landscaping. It’s a wonder the Farmhouse hasn’t been bulldozed to a pile of rubbish by this time, only to be covered up by fancy brick homes and picket fence porches.
I don’t see any headlights in my rearview, so I slow down to take a look. I can still see the silo looming up from the backyard. The garage still has no door. There’s a car parked on the grass where my friend Caleb used to park the cab of his MAC truck when he stayed in town for the weekend. I remember how I loved driving his evergreen pick-up when he went on a truck route during the week. He taught me how to turn the wheel when I started to skid on ice that year.
There were some lights on in the house, but I couldn’t see inside. My bedroom used to be this horrible sea green color. I wanted anything but white, and with such a good eye for art, I somehow gave oversight to the eyesore that I created by painting my bedroom walls. I remember our living room, too huge to handle. We moved furniture like puzzle pieces for days trying to make it seem anything but lost in the vast space of our main gathering area. Somehow, it all worked out. Our friends, Paul and Brian fell asleep regularly on the couches when we watched movies late at night, so something must have been comfortable and right in that big empty room.
There’s a new flashing light just beyond the house, to notify drivers of the curve just ahead. I noticed the change. I drove through the streets of my old college, just looking around and thinking about how this or that building used to be a parking lot or a little parkway of grass something like six years ago. This memory lane stroll is new for me; I still feel like just a kid. It’s about to become a regular part of life, isn’t it? Every change, every new season bringing the chance to look back to years gone by. Good years, I hope. Like the years in the Farmhouse on Fillmore.