When I visit the New Hampshire/Maine seacoast, either with Jeannine or by myself, it has always been my ritual -- usually when leaving -- to drive over to Dover, NH, and cruise past the house we rented and lived in for two years. It's a sentimental journey, for many reasons -- among them are the fact that this house was the first place where we lived together, where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were created, and where we were married, in the small backyard in the summer of 1983… a ceremony presided over by a local Justice of the Peace, and attended by enough friends and family to almost fill the backyard (like I said, it was small).
Here's the house as it looked back then.
In the last couple of years, the house had not fared well. This past year especially, it has looked somewhat bedraggled, with a few broken windows and an air of abandonment. And there was a notice on the front door, some kind of official town thing that mentioned that it was slated for demolition.
I couldn't understand why. Aside from the broken windows, the house looked as sturdy as when we had lived there. But perhaps there was some underlying structural problem that we were not aware of. I really don't know. I considered calling our former landlady, a very sweet woman, but in case there was some unpleasant story associated with it which would upset her, I decided not to.
So when I drove down Union Street in Dover a couple of days ago, I was heartened to see what looked like a new coat of paint on the house. But… it looked different, somehow… and then, as I got closer, I realized that what I was looking at was the house BEHIND our old house. Our house…
… was gone.
Where it once stood was a rough patch of brown dirt.
Even the lawn in the small backyard, where friends and family had gathered to see us pledge ourselves to each other on our wedding day, was mostly gone. The small garage -- which we never used -- had also vanished.
I had expected that I would be devastated if that house was torn down. I even gave some thought in recent years to buying it to save the old place, but that really made no logical sense, so I abandoned that completely sentimental plan. But when I saw it was gone, I felt very little… a small twinge of sadness, mostly.
I am sad that it's gone. I have many great memories of that house, most having to do with Jeannine and our first couple of years together.
But as she pointed out when I gave her the news, we still have those memories. We still have artifacts from those times, like this drawing I did of the front of the house. I can't remember WHY I did it -- possibly as a card, or perhaps as part of the directions to our wedding.
And we still have the photos from our wedding, and the lovely memories which go with them.
But most of all, we have each other. -- PL