Going back

In a recent post, Liz from Mom-101 so eloquently wrote, “I live my life with one pinky toe in the past. I’m unapologetically nostalgic.”

I’m glad to know I’m in good company.

I definitely do not live in the past; rather, I find joy in remembering good times from my past… the people, places and things that have left lasting memories in my heart.

I’ve always been this way. I remember living in New York City during the summer of 1999, my first summer away from home, and being nostalgic for the carefree childhood days at my summer pool club. And now, 10 years later, I am nostalgic for that very summer I spent in New York City, living with Audrey, taking a summer course at NYU, making new friends and loving my independence.

And speaking of independence (or, more appropriately, Independence Day…), over the holiday weekend I was once again reminded of my penchant for nostalgia.

For 7 years – from the year I graduated from high school in 1998 to 2005 – my parents lived in Bristol, RI, home to the oldest continuously running 4th of July Parade in the country. It is one patriotic little New England town, and our whole family loved our time there.

My parents lived just a few houses down from the parade route, so every year we would have a ton of people over our house for the parade and all the festivities surrounding it – the fireworks, the carnival, the outdoor concerts.

Mom would decorate the house in red, white and blue – and we would all wear our festive outfits, too, as evidenced in this photo here, taken on our front porch on July 4, 1999:

For the first six years we lived in that house, we had gorgeous weather for the 4th. On the seventh year – 2004 – it rained.

No, it poured.

We knew that that year would be our last in our Bristol house. Dad’s business had moved and he and Mom would be selling the house so Dad could be closer to work. And I hate to say it, but the weather on that last 4th of July spent in Bristol kind of put a damper on the holiday.

It was wet. It was cold. It was pretty miserable. Instead of grilling outside, playing games in the yard, walking through town to enjoy the thousands of people celebrating in our little town, we and our guests were all cramped in my parents’ house, WATCHING THE PARADE ON TV – the parade that was happening 50 FEET FROM THE HOUSE.

The next year – 2005 – Mom and Dad had already moved to their new house. We didn’t go to Bristol for the parade. It was a beautiful July 4th that year, and while we loved the new house, it wasn’t the Bristol house, which had become synonymous with the 4th of July, and all the wonderful, sunny memories of previous 4ths of July.

And the nostalgic part of me was too sad to go back without a house to visit. Without our house to visit.

I wanted to remember the 4th of July as it had been the first 6 years we spent in Bristol.

I felt that same way for the next few years, too… until this year. Five years had been long enough. July 4, 2009 was a beautiful day. I was ready to go back to Bristol.

I stopped by our old house to take a photo, and was a little sad to see it not decked out red, white and blue.

If Mom and Dad still lived there, it would have been one of the most patriotic houses on the block, both inside and out.

But I’m OK with it. Mom and Dad don’t still live there. We were just there among the other thousands of visitors to the town.

And I know that the people, places and things in Bristol that have left lasting memories in my heart will always be there whenever I feel the need to dip my pinky toe in the past.

Going back was last modified: July 1st, 2010 by Jane Couto Govednik
SHOWHIDE Comments (7)
  1. I know how you feel Jane, I miss the great times we had living in Bristol too. And July 4th in Bristol is the BEST! For the two weeks prior to the 4th, there are activities every night; concerts, carnivals, soap box derby races, firework displays, beauty contests, and more. And the clubs and restaurants in Bristol go all out with festivities during those two weeks. I believe that Bristol’s 4th of July Parade is the oldest continuously running parade in the country. Next year will be the parade’s 225th anniversary year. We may not live in Bristol anymore, but hopefully we’ll continue to celebrate the 4th in Bristol for many years to come!

  2. The memories of living in Bristol are clear and beautiful! And the best part is that we can still participate in all the fun and grandeur, as we did this past weekend. I love the whole thing, from Flag Day in June where we would decorate our home, to the last day in August when we would take down and store all our wonderful things for the next year. I love your post. It makes me happy!!

  3. Believe it or not, I have actually been to that very 4th of July party. Although my memories aren’t as beautiful as yours – it was hard to see the parade over all the big hair.

    (I kid!)

    Thanks for being a fellow pinky toe-r. We need a badge or something.

  4. It’s good to remember the past with warm memories. I remember going back to an old house recently, it’s not the same but I did remember the good times we had there.

  5. I loved this post, Jane! You are such a talented writer. I feel like that about our life on the east coast. So much there to love and so many happy memories. I know if I went back, the families would be different, the children will have grown into high schoolers, and our house would have someone else there who couldn’t love it the way we did. Thank you for sharing your memories!

Going back was last modified: July 1st, 2010 by Jane Couto Govednik