I have lived in the same place for 19 years. We moved to what is now my old house when I was three years old, and needless to say, I remember very little of that transition. I was probably too busy being a holy terror, running around in a tutu and camo pants insisting everyone pay attention to me.
About a year or two or seven ago (I’ve never been good at conceptions of time) my parents started looking to move. They wanted to downsize, get out of the cozy suburban life, go to the mountains. We have never been mountain people––we prefer the beach, and my dad likes to make sure everyone knows that. But I guess they figured, why not try something new? 60 is the new 30 after all.
Did I say 60? I meant 35.
I’d say 25 but I know too many 25-year-olds to consider that a compliment.
We moved two days ago. I did not get a chance to say goodbye to our house, so I’ll do it here, where everyone can see.
Our old house had a huge backyard with a swing where I used to swing and sing songs I made up or loved enough to butcher. That’s really where I first learned to sing (if badly) and I loved it; we tore that swing down years ago but that’s always the first thing I think of when I think of that house. That kind of liberation.
The second thing I think about is a blurred mixture of perfect climbing trees, late nights bike riding in the cul-de-sac with my neighbors while our parents looked on, flashlight tag, pool and birthday parties, movie screenings, Settlers of Catan nights, watching Finding Nemo a hundred thousand times at a conservative estimate, and Christmas. Always Christmas. That’s where I learned to love it, all the lights. I’d sit for hours (aka twenty minutes) and just stare at our Christmas tree. All our traditions were forged in that house.
I didn’t know when I left it last week that it would be the last time I’d actually set foot in that house. It’s where I first began to write stories, where I learned to sing and act and play the piano, where I introduced my parents to significant others, where I posed for pictures for homecoming, prom, graduation, where I loved and fought and made up with my siblings and parents and friends… where I became a person, really. I’ve always been particularly connected to places, and this was by far the most significant one in my life and probably will be for a long, long time.
You’d think I’d be sadder about leaving that behind. That’s what I keep telling my mom, you’d think I’d be less excited. But the truth is, that history weighs on me, a family heirloom of a millstone. I could never be an adult there; I would always be a sort of amalgamation of every phase of my life, especially the younger ones. I would always look at every floorboard, door hinge, and dust board and remember my earliest memories. It was a great place to grow up, but it’s not the place to grow, if that makes any sense.
There’s no real way to pay homage to the place that defined my life, but I’ve tried and I’m sure I’ll try again. Hopefully I’ll avoid the phrase “home is where the heart is,” but I won’t make any promises.
For now, the view is spectacular.