Closing the door one last time. Not looking back. That’s it: I will never set a foot in this house again. The house of my childhood, my home. Maybe I won’t even come back in this small town. Ambilly, c’est fini.
It’s rather rare in life to know when we are doing something for the last time. I walked back from the border last night, like I’ve done a million time before. Route de Geneve, taking left after the shady bar. Walking fast, it’s not the best neighborhood although I actually never got any trouble. Walking through the residential alley, smelling flowers in the night; spring finally arrived here.
Taking left once again. Pont Noir. Crossing the railway where it seems a ghost train might appear since they took off the barrier. It feels a bit weird. Last straight line. Rue des Marroniers. I think about Kenny almost every time. I’m not even sure it is where he was living but that’s what child-me remembers. He won’t be there on his motorbike though. Never.
Now the roundabout. On the right the school “La Paix”. My school. I’ve been in every classroom, I played in the yard, I ran, I felt, I lost my favorite marble against a big girl, I sat on the ground, talking for hours with my Iranian friend, wondering why “the couldn’t all get along as we do”. The political discussions we had at 10 do not sound so different from the ones we are having now.
Yesterday, for the first time ever, the street lights were not working. The night was so dark I could not see the playground in front of the school, as if the town was closing down. Good bye, don’t be sad, there is nothing left from your childhood anyway, nothing to regret.
Walking along the stadium; on the other side, the park. The lights are on there, but I’m not even sure I visited it since it’s been renovated. It’s not anymore the place where I played hide-and-seek for hours, where I scared myself out going downhill on roller-blades and turning last second to avoid falling in the pond. The waterlilies, the huge goldfish and the broken bricks of the edges, all are gone already.
Left one more time. The entrance of the “Cottages”. The sign has been destroyed years ago but the mailboxes haven’t changed since we got there. Left again in front of Julien’s house. Passing Gael’s, Laura’s, James and Marina’s. Their parents are still living here but we are not riding our bikes together anymore. Au revoir les amis. Facebook is our new neighborhood.
Numero 6. There are no flowers on the clematis. I pause for a second. Good bye little house. Kissing the mezuza one last time. Good bye home. Now I will cary my home with me, everywhere, in the heart of those I love. A house is not a home, it’s just bricks. Home is where love is.