What it feels like driving by my old house

Tonight I was driving back to my parents’ new house from a Live a Great Story event in East Austin and decided to stop by our old house, the house I grew up in, got sick in, and the house I came back to three or four times after I left Austin four years ago.

That house flooded several years ago. So after my parents remodeled it they sold it and moved into a new house a few miles away that was well out of the flood plain.

I don’t miss that old house, but every time I’m back in Austin, I find that old house drawing me back. A very literal reconciliation with home, I drive by and each time re-live old memories and find their impact dissolving.

It’s amazing to drive by your old house, feel all those familiar feelings (good and bad) and mentally be ready to pull into the driveway, but then notice that some strange cars are parked in the garage. Your family would never drive a massive lifted pick-up truck like that. Oh, and the garden looks different. It’s not as well-tended. Also, that’s a camper trailer. That’s weird.

I don’t have a lot of overwhelmingly positive memories in that old house, and the last time I did a flyby, I felt those memories like a heavy blanket. This time, those memories had lost a lot of their heft. But even as I felt those memories, I was staring at cars that don’t belong to my family and saw the flicker of a television from through the glass on the front door.

There are other people living in that house now. That house is no longer mine. And that realization mixed with the old memories, diluting them, confusing them, and as I drove past I felt them as if I were squinting at them across a river. So far away that they couldn’t touch me.

This whole trip has been a reconciliation between me and Austin (the city). But I suspect it’s a reconciliation between part of Austin’s life then and parts of Austin’s life now. Finding forgiveness and acceptance and seeing more to look forward to in the future rather than to run away from in the past.

That’s a great feeling.

Hope this helps.

Austin W. Gunter




I’m Austin. I live in San Francisco, practice Tai Chi, have rheumatoid arthritis, listen to a lot of loud music, and host a lot of dinner parties. Want more? Start here.


  • I love the concept of “diluting” the memories. It’s been a few more years for me (33) since I left home. Last time I drove by it made me feel silly for neeing to look at someone else’s house. I don’t think I will need to see it again.

  • When you put all these memoirs of your life into a book, it should be called “Reconciling with Austin” or “Austin Reconciliation” or “Accepting Austin”… you get my drift, yes? 🙂
    I love this. Thank you for sharing.

Submit a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *