Susan and I often stop for visits in Windsor. Separately we grew up there. Separately we graduated from high school. From there we went off to lead separate lives. Our reintroduction to each other came some thirty-five years after we'd each left town, each married, each had three children, each divorced. The similarities seem remarkable to us, although the facts of our lives are most likely the same as for thousands of others. Nowadays it seems there is little we do separately.
This weekend we drove down from our place in New Hampshire to Connecticut to visit family who remain in the area and to reconnect with Windsor. We had our Sunday morning breakfast at Nick's and then took a long walk that took us past the house where I grew up. The new owner looked up from where he was sitting on the front steps and smiled as we walked by. Do you think I should introduce myself? Yes, she said.
Windsor is a town with an ever changing demographic. It's the first town north of Hartford which puts it right in the path of urban flight. Over the years, the local rag has made every effort to put a racial slant on the situation with stories of "white flight", of minorities left trapped in the urban ghetto, but the fact is it's just flight. Ed exemplifies. I introduced Susan and me, and told him that his was the house I grew up in. I asked him how he liked living there, and he told us he loved it, and apologizing that his wife was not home at the moment and that the house was not as tidy as it might be, he asked us if we'd like to come in and see it.
Ed has the hint of a Spanish accent in his speech. I didn't ask from where or how long ago. It was faint but it was there, and the chance that we might miss it disappeared when we went inside. Where the house once presented a subdued impression of neutral color and straight line classical décor, today it is flamboyant with vibrant color and a suggestion of baroque in its atmosphere. It's different. It's Ed. It reflects Ed and his wife and his family. But what surprised me was how the differences were almost overwhelmed by how much the same it is. It was home. It is home.
For my part I was able to give Ed a little of the history of the place. It was built in the twenties, and I was able to tell him who had built it, and where his house had once stood. I was able to tell him that my parents had moved into the place right after World War II. I told him which bedroom belonged to which of us as we grew up there. In what was once my bedroom I took the blame for carving my name with a fishing knife down the edge of the closet door where it still can be seen above the latch plate.
It was a short visit, but one marked by genuine warmth. He took us through the whole house. We thanked him, said our goodbyes, and continued on our walk. How gracious it was of him to invite us in. It was something to once again walk through the rooms where growing up happened. But what was most satisfying was to see that the old house will be the anchor for another couple of generations of Windsor people, who will come back to reconnect from time to time, just as Susan and I do.