When I was a kid, I was plagued by vivid nightmares. (This continued until the Headless Little Girl Incident, which is a story for another day.) Once I was convinced there were monsters sneaking around the house, I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep. To feel safe, I would sneak down to the basement room where my mother was living and sleep on the black vinyl couch across from the pull-out bed she slept on. I was five, and it was safe.
I got home to King of Prussia Wednesday night. A friend picked me up at the airport and dropped me off at the family home. It was late, after midnight, but my sister was still up and shuffling around, cleaning up a little for the impending arrival of other family members the next day. We talked for a little while, but soon enough I went down into that basement room, and slept on that very couch (well, really its replacement, but in the same place) again. Safe.
I lay awake for a while, realizing that this house would soon be gone - the last bastion of home and family and security. Soon it would be sold to some strangers, who wouldn't know about the magic in the woods behind it, who would be ignorant of the dark horrors of the crawl-space, who would never find out about the spooky attic. All those tales, those sentiments of having a place that's home, a space that's always welcoming, would be gone - memories only.
Yesterday I drove around my home town. It struck me that it will probably be the last time I visit - certainly the last time I stay here. I have friends in the Philadelphia area, true - and some of them live and work in King of Prussia..but the really good friends who I'd visit from across the country are elsewhere.
Summers in Valley Forge. Bike rides to the mall for ice cream and book. Walking to Caley Road Elementary. The wild woods behind the house - my own personal Narnia, Middle Earth, Endor, ... they will all be gone and faded like old photographs left too long in the light. No more safe place to retreat to. No more home.