Can You Go Home Again?

About a year after I moved to the suburbs, the previous owners of our home stopped by unannounced: They had been in the neighborhood — did I mind terribly? They wanted a look around.

I was on deadline, writing in my usual work attire, sweat pants and a pajama top. No, of course not, no imposition, I told them. Let me show you the place. With every room, I felt worse and worse: they looked pained that I had changed a color here, and had made of their lovely sitting room a romper room of toys and foam mats. As for the garden, I prayed they did not glance outside.

I felt mostly like a teenager showing her parents the damage that had been done at that big party while they were on vacation in Florida. At least, when the former owners left, they did not ground me.

They were not, of course, the only previous owners of our home in Hastings-on-Hudson. One day, an elderly couple stopped by to say it was the house where the husband had courted his wife on the porch. They had had their first kiss on that porch and wanted to see it again.

Despite my entreaties, they could not be convinced to step inside the house; they insisted it was too much to ask. I insisted on one thing: that they get on the porch and kiss for the camera the husband held in his hand. I took the photo, with her blushing as he pecked her on the cheek. I handed them the camera and sent them on their way, then immediately kicked myself: That is one picture that should be hanging prominently in the entryway of our home.

In my Big City column on Saturday, I wrote about going back to my old apartment in Washington Heights. In the comment box below, please share your stories of going back to an old home — or of having previous residents come by to visit their old haunts.

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