The weekend before last I took a day off and made my way southwest to Gettysburg for a weekend-long rendezvous with my Ohio relatives. I knew I was going to get there before they did, so I first took a small detour to Fairfield, which is about 10 miles outside of the 'burg, and is also where my grandfather and his sisters (and a brother? I can't remember if he was the only boy) grew up. The family has long returned to the town. As a kid, I remember countless drives from the D.C. area with my mother, where we would meet up with our Ohio brethren at my great-aunt Helen's house. Helen was a school teacher and never married, and her house was a general meeting place for numerous holiday gatherings. We rarely spent Christmas-proper there, but always celebrated the holiday at some point. I have so many memories from those days; flashes of the rooms, furniture, knick knacks, wallpaper, piano, refrigerator magnets, unsafe back porch, grassy back sidewalk, clothes hanger, neighbor boxer dog, tiddly winks, armchairs. And the town itself was/is so small that as kids my cousin and I were allowed to walk around it with no supervision. I most vividly remember walking the two or three blocks to the local grocery store every time I was there to buy MAD magazine and gum - two things I never purchased at home. On another occasion, shortly after reading Harriet the Spy, I wandered down the main drag and up and around the few small alleys, taking notes on the various houses and looking for potential ways to get inside the houses...never did get inside, which is definitely for the best. When Helen ultimately had to be moved to an assisted living facility, the house and its belongings were sold. Actually, the things were auctioned off, so many of our family members went to the auction to get a few especially meaningful items (why we couldn't have simply taken them before the auction isn't clear to me). My mother got one of the two bed frames from the back room, where my cousin K, me and often my grandmother too would all sleep (the house may look a good size from the outside, but with three bedrooms needing to serve at least 8 people, things could get cramped. The mattress on that bed had a very pronounced dip in the middle, which I loved. That frame, with new mattress (to my chagrin) became my bed for the remainder of my years at home, and is now in the guest bedroom in Tennessee. I expect that whenever I have a more proper home I might try to mooch it. Mom also got an antique clock that sits in the dining area of the Tennessee house. All to say, this house has a lot of memories and feelings attached to it. So when I went to Fairfield, I first went to the cemetery where we spread some of Mom's ashes (by Helen's and other family members' graves) to just say hello to everyone - figuratively speaking. Then I became a super mccreepster, parking across the street from the house and taking photos. Driving around its block to see how things stayed the same or changed. Things have changed a little for sure, but this front view is exactly what we'd see when we drove up.