Last week we returned to Duncanville, where we owned a house for 38 years, although we lived in it for less than half of that time. We were overseas in Papua New Guinea, Australia, or other places, or we were teaching at courses in Oklahoma and Texas. Many colleagues lived in our home while we were gone.

In March of 2014 we sold our house and moved to Waco and we have visited Duncanville only twice since then, and both times for short periods.

Each time we return we drive by our old house and see what it looks like. We don’t miss living there but we have a certain amount of curiosity about what changes have taken place.

The first thing we noticed was that the driveway and adjacent lawns were full of vehicles–pick-up trucks and in the back yard was a boat. But in order to get the boat back beyond the fence a tree had to be removed and other bushes cut. It was apparently worth the effort because a big boat now sits near where I once sawed wood for the fireplace.

The second thing we noticed–we are driving by slowly–was that the windows of the garage were all covered, indicating that it had probably been made into a spare room.

We also saw a large ‘dish’ on the roof of the house, all the better to bring in hundreds of TV stations, many of them undoubtedly in Spanish, the vernacular of the new occupants.

It was obvious that a lot of people were living at the house we once owned and that they had provided for their enjoyment. That is what happens and what one should expect when selling or buying a house.

I used to walk around the half circle street behind our house and count how many cars were parked about–no one, except us, ever used their garage to park a car. There are about 15 houses on that street and the most cars I counted was 48, with the average about 37. It gave me something to do when out for my walk.

I would leave our house and walk to Lakeside Park, about 10 minutes away. I would then walk through the Park and come back a different way. Sometimes I would sit at one of the Park benches and count the ducks. I counted over 50 one time. Once in a while there would be a crane or a goose, lots of squirrels and occasionally a rabbit or lost dog. It was a peaceful setting for a walk or a sit.

Located next to our house is one that belonged to Jerry and his wife. We noticed that it is now up for sale, so Jerry will probably be returning to Maryland with his wife. The memories we have of him as a neighbor will soon disappear unless we incorporate them into a story–my usual way of remembering things.

We didn’t visit Krogers, which was sad because Joice used to spend so much time and money there. She knew a number of the clerks and visited with them regularly. We now shop at HEB in Waco, a large warehouse type of store and it would be unusual to meet a clerk (or anyone) that you knew there. So she does miss that part of Duncanville.

We stayed with friends about two miles from our house and live in in SW Dallas. I once jogged that route regularly but had to give it up when my knees complained of the hard surface. I now walk on a treadmill at the YMCA in Waco, staring at the TV mounted conveniently ahead of the machine. Actually there are 5 TVs and many, many machines.

Our Dallas friends live in a closed community called “sunset acres”, meaning that you can both see the sunset literally or that figuratively you are waiting to walk into it. The community is comprised largely of missionaries or missionary types. They don’t live inside a fence but they have a certain worldview. For example, they are bargain hunters–you don’t see junk along the street because it is in someone’s house. And they keep track of one another and help one another. In Duncanville we were only inside our next door neighbors’ houses once or twice, although one neighbor was a security guard and took note of what happened around us.

Once you sell your house and leave it is best not to be too nostalgic about it. We have moved and Duncanville is a part of our past, but not the future. And that is the way it should be. But if we are up that way, we will drive slowly by the old house and count the pick-ups in the driveway and lawn. Eight is the highest number so far, but who’s counting?

[October, 2014]