Can You Go Home Again?


Mr. Davidson’s family was close friends with the previous owners of the house and had visited it frequently. Mr. Davidson’s family had moved away by the time the Biddles bought the house in the mid-1990s.

By Christmas 2018, Ms. Biddle and Mr. Davidson were engaged, and so the Davidson family came to a holiday party at the Biddle family home. “I was really anxious about it before they came,” Ms. Biddle, now 27, said. “Will they think we messed it up? Because we did change a lot. We put so much love and care into this home over the years, and the idea that someone already knew it and would be disappointed by what we did was a scary thought.”

As Ms. Biddle and her mother gave the Davidsons a tour of the renovated four-bedroom house, Ms. Biddle, a writer, worried about what they would report back to the previous owners. “To have the house framed in that way is very weird, where it goes from ‘our house’ to ‘their old house,’” said Ms. Biddle, who now lives in Germantown, N.Y., with Mr. Davidson, 28, whom she married in June.

During the party, Mr. Davidson gathered on the front porch with his parents and sisters to take family pictures to send to the previous homeowners. Ms. Biddle was baffled by their enthusiasm for her house and felt strange as she snapped the family photo that did not include her family. “The idea of someone else caring enough about the house to want a picture on the porch of it, felt slightly strange,” she said. “It’s mine. I’m greedy.”

Of course, the house will always be Ms. Biddle’s childhood home. But it was someone else’s, too. The collision of the two worlds made clear that her life there was but one chapter in the life of the house.

In the years since I visited my old home, my childhood memories have remained intact, and separate from those of the house I visited that afternoon. Yes, I remember the new open layout, but that version doesn’t compete with my memories of Thanksgivings spent in our cozy dining room, with my mother walking through the swinging door from the kitchen carrying hot serving platters.

Even though I can still vividly remember those Italian tiles in my parent’s bathroom, I cannot, for the life of me, remember what that new bathroom even looked like.

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