Tomorrow marks the end of an era for me. I am travelling about thirty miles up to Preston, the town where I was born and brought up. I moved away once I went to University and never went back there to live, but I still considered it my 'home town'. My parents lived there, so I visited quite often, even slept in my 'old' bedroom. More recently, my father and step-mother (whom he married when in his 80's) lived there, although no longer in the house where I grew up. I continued to visit my step-mother, after my father died nine years ago.
Following her passing last May, I travelled up to Preston several times to help clear the contents of the apartment she'd shared with my father. Memories returned when I found things that had once belonged to my mother.After Christmas, the apartment was cleared of all the larger items and it was put on the market. I expected a long wait for a sale, but no, we have a cash buyer less than two weeks after the agency put it up for sale. So tomorrow I am going to Preston to collect one final box of items.
It will probably be the last time I ever go to Preston. I have no other friends living there now, so there will be no need for me to go back there.
It's quite a strange feeling. Over the years, I've become used to the inevitable changes in the town, but there were still plenty of reminders of my childhood and teenage years there - the house where I lived until I was eleven, the fish and chip shop round the corner, the church where I used to attend Sunday School, the park where I used to play withmy friends on the swings and slide, and of course my old Junior School too. Then there's the house we moved to where I spent my teenage years. Lots of memories there, too. I got used to seeing them all when I went 'home'. Sometimes I smiled at the memories they evoked, sometimes I simply took them for granted.
Maybe tomorrow, after I've picked up the box from the apartment, I'll drive around and have a last look at some of the places which were part of my growing-up years. And then I'll drive back to the house where I've lived for the last 40+ years.
Of course, there's nothing to stop me from going to Preston again, even without anyone to visit there, but I doubt that I will. Tomorrow I shall be saying a final goodbye to the 'home town' of my childhood. It really does feel like the end of an era.