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About Literature / Hobbyist ChrisMale/United States Group :iconoriginal-lit-yaoi: Original-Lit-Yaoi
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There's no going home again. And the Internet is making that as clear from my chair as it could be if I were to visit in person. Maybe even more so. The same technology that allows me to lay eyes on the Eastern European villages my great-grandparents were born in more than 125 years ago, without even getting on an airplane, can also show me that no place I remember from my beginnings, whether pleasant or unpleasant, is as it was. It makes me feel ripped out by the roots. Maybe I shouldn't have looked.

I suppose it wouldn't be so wrenching were I still living in the area where I grew up, as my sister and brother do. When change comes gradually it creeps up on you, and you automatically take each one in stride. But I've been away except for occasional visits for over thirty years now, and when I did visit more frequently my parents no longer lived where they once did. So I never really saw it coming.

Between Google Maps and various real estate sites, I can see what has happened.

The first place I remember living in until age 4 was a small Cape Cod style house at a place that was a name and a train station, little more, between two larger towns in Central New Jersey. That's not to imply it was terribly isolated, only that it was one of those interstitial suburban areas you often get in a place that densely populated. The house I saw in the Street View image was, I thought, heavily remodeled since it appeared to take up the same footprint on the lot and have windows and doors in roughly the same place, confirmed by comparing it to the two other houses on the street built to the same design. Turns out the house at that address was built in 1995, 33 years too late. Either the remodel was so complete that the records show it as new construction, or the first place I remember as my home was demolished and no longer exists.

The train no longer stops there either.

From there we moved to a house my parents had constructed, on a dead-end street of single family houses encroaching on what had been farmland only a few years earlier. This is the house I think of myself as having grown up in, since we lived there for my entire elementary and middle school careers, through my freshman year in high school. What happened to that neighborhood was less of a shock, since it had begun before we moved away. The development that had been planned but not actually constructed for over a decade finally arrived, filling in the open meadows that were my playground as a child. Not wild meadows by any means, but farmland left fallow and still divided up, as was common in the area, by hedgerows. That's all gone. Hundreds of large and not terribly attractive houses have taken their place.

If anyone has read my story To The Summer Sweet at y!Gallery, which cannot be published on this site, the location is heavily based on what this area was like when I was about the age of the viewpoint character, just before the heavy equipment came in. Except for the woods. I based the size of the woods on my perception of them as a very young child when it seemed like an endless expanse of trees, when in truth it was nothing more than a long, narrow strip of land left uncultivated because of its steepness. In reality could not have been more than about fifty yards wide, if that, and maybe a third of a mile long. But that story was all about a kind of magic, and such magic is in the seeming, not the reality.

The people who bought that house from us owned it until only about five years ago, meaning "my house" belonged to someone else for roughly three times the span I actually lived there. They look to have cut down the two black locust trees my sister and I raised from seeds as a school project, but if I interpret the pictures correctly the oak tree my mother planted to commemorate the birth of my younger brother is thriving. Zillow shows me an interior just barely recognizable, in photos taken for its last sale.

The demographic hump represented by all those new houses required the construction of a new elementary school. Now that there aren't as many school-age children living in them, the township has had to close a school. They left the new one open, and closed down instead the one I had attended, the one that had a new wing built on during the time I attended there. But the school grounds had already had a bite taken out of them years before. The increased population forced the township to institute its own police department, where it had none before, and they built its headquarters on what had been one of our baseball diamonds.

The real shock there was the total disappearance of my 4-H leader's dairy farm, where I spent a lot of time learning gardening. It was the kind of small family farm that was once the mainstay of American agriculture, now overtaken by corporate farming. The old farmhouse still stands, sold as a historic property a couple of years ago. It seemed like a very large place to me when I was young, but now I can see it's dwarfed by the McMansions surrounding it. One of the barns seems to have been converted to a large house, but the rest of the farm buildings are gone.

To raise funds for the club we used to decorate and sell Christmas wreaths. We'd do this in one of the farm's sheds, heated by a wood stove, running in and out of the cold to fetch more "blank" wreaths to work on and warming ourselves with hot chocolate in between... It's all gone.

Near the farm was my middle school. That's still there, somewhat larger than it was. Across the street from it was a park, still there, and also still there was the pond where we used to ice skate in the winter. One surprise I found while looking at older aerial photos was that this pond was actually artificial. It hadn't been there the year of my birth. Now that I think about it, I may have been told this at one time, but it's still odd to see it. It's a reminder that my wistful nostalgia represents a state of affairs that was itself a wrenching change for someone else.

After all, the barn that had belonged to the farm on which "my house" was built still stood when I was a kid. It always looked somewhat eerie to me, but it had been a component of a working farm not half a decade before I got there.

The financial disaster that had been in the offing since I was in the 7th grade crashed down on us during my freshman high school year. My father had bought a business, a delicatessen, and had overextended our finances trying to make it work. My parents had to sell the house to pay off his debt, and we moved from a smallish but comfortable ranch-style house on an acre of land to a townhouse in a new development the next township over. That house still looks more or less as it did when we lived there, but rest of that area has been utterly transformed. The dirt roads I used as back routes to get just about anywhere have been paved over and built around, and even some of the larger roads have been re-routed. I'm not sure I could navigate the roads on which I learned to drive without getting lost. I didn't especially like living there, or going to high school there, so I don't feel any particular pangs over it. It's just weird.

Oh, and the place that used to be my dad's deli, and where I spent many hours working myself? If I've correctly remembered which shop in the shopping center had been his -- it too has been remodeled -- it's now an Indian restaurant. Seems to have a pretty good reputation, too. Next time I'm in the state, I should give it a try.


Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
I'm just here to show off my writing and to stare at the pretty pictures.

I don't usually thank people for faves, even though they're much appreciated, just because that's a conversation that never really goes anywhere. But I almost always reply to comments!

Current Residence: Santa Cruz County, California


Thanks to Pokemon GO! it is now possible to be a professional Pokemon trainer. For real.

Your customers will be people who want to compete at a high level but don't have time to walk around all day catching Pokemon. Apparently you can get $20/hr for this.…
Why is it, when you clearly tell someone you're not going to read any further replies from them on a thread, they keep posting?

I rarely block anyone and I believe my block list is currently empty, but I'm quite capable of simply deleting the notifications without concern. What bothers me is that I'm apparently not being taken at my word. How insulting!
I've listened to this mantra over and over and I still can't decipher it's language or meaning.…

And who are the figures chanting it? Are they some kind of prophet, or just priests of this religion? What religion is this chant from anyway?
I went to the gym yesterday for the first time in about 4 years. The idea was to meet with a trainer to set up a workout routine, but due to email address confusion he didn't think I'd confirmed the appointment. So I let him talk me into participating in the sports fitness class he was about to start.

Today, I feel as if I had been beaten with long, hard sticks on every square inch of my body that's ordinarily capable of movement. I'd planned to at least try to get a run in, but the muscles all around my waistline are too sore from the deadlifts even for my usual walk.

Oh God. Why.

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simbalm Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Thanks so much for :+devwatch:ing! Stay awesome =p!
Everyone Loves Me Stamp by Khrinx
Spite-Sire Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2016
Hey, thanks for the badge. Your writings are really good by the way. Mk, that is all. Ciao. x] :peace:
leothefox Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2016   General Artist
Swingin' On a Star _revamp_ Thank you for faving

Mature Content

September 19 2016 by leothefox
leothefox Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2016   General Artist
Adorable Girl Anime Emoji (Kawaii Wink) [V6] Thank you for faving

Mature Content

So Fine a Plan by leothefox
xmoonlitxdreamx Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the watch!!
leothefox Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2016   General Artist
[i]: free blushing bun icon! Thank you so much for faving

The Rocket King in Green by leothefox  
leothefox Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2016   General Artist
Happy Happy..Onion Thank you for faving

Red City Lights by leothefox  
neurotype Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
I need your thoughts on this.…
Lytrigian Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
I think it needs to be taken about as seriously as anything else in Cracked. Although I have to say, it's a bit odd to use the Jackson movies as a reference since they arguably do not occupy the same universe as the books.

They are far from the first to note a certain correspondence between Tolkien's dwarves and the Snow White story...…
neurotype Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Oooooh. Haha, I figured if there was anything legit about this, you'd know P:
leothefox Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2016   General Artist
:La: in Love with :Dummy: Thank you for faving

Mature Content

The Door is a Jar by leothefox
paytonsnewheart Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2016  Hobbyist Filmographer
Thanks for the llama!
MangekkoJones Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2016  Student General Artist
Thank you for the Llama!
doughboycafe Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2016  Professional Writer
I saw this and I thought of you.…
Lytrigian Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Hee! Well, some of that is just normal English rural living before the mid-20th century, like the 12-mile-walk thing.

Losing hands is an odd theme, but it happened twice. Not even counting Frodo's finger.
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