The comparison that we are given between the present and Eveline's memories of the past is very different. The past seems to occupy a special place in Eveline's memory of happiness and tranquil freedom. Note what the text tells us about what she remembers about the field near her home before it was used for building houses:
One time there used to be a field there in which they used to play every evening with other people's children... The children of the avenue used to play together in that field--the Devines, the Waters, the Dunns, little Keogh the cripple, she and her brothers and sisters... Still they seemed to have been rather happy then. Her father was not so bad then; and besides, her mother was alive.
Since her childhood memories of freedom and being able to play with the local children from her neighbourhood, it seems as if a whole succession of bad things have impacted Eveline's life. She hs grown up, her mother has died, her relationship with her father has worsened. As the narrator comments, "Everything changes." The innocence of childhood is therefore reminisced over with considerable happiness, especially given the momentous decision that Eveline must make in the present. Innocence has been exchanged for experience and the complicated world of being an adult.