I drive down the road, windows open, breathing in the summer air and the smells of the country. I am soaking in the beauty of the land. It feels safe, comfortable and like the many times I have driven down the road. Except today is the last time it will be mine. A piece of my heart will always be in this place where I grew up. It is not about the actual house, the specific structure but rather the place, my roots.
Emotions are mixed. The practical side says it is time. The emotional side tugs powerfully not to let go.
I admit the beauty of my surroundings was sometimes lost on me when I was young. I found the place too rural and couldn’t wait to leave and get on with a different type of life. First I left for summer camp, then college and then a job in Boston.
But overtime something changed. Each time I returned for a visit, I began to fall back in love with my home. I didn’t want to leave. It felt safe and I was relaxed. I found myself bringing friends to visit and coming back for my vacations. I started to see my home through their eyes and many of them were surprised where I had come from.
My husband “to be” and I decided it was the perfect place to get married. A garden wedding would be beautiful. Though I no longer lived there I called it home. I can still hear my mother’s voice. “You love it here. You really love it here.”
Soon the rooms took on a new look with my toddlers running around and as they grew older, my boys developed a special fondness and their own memories and favorite spots to visit each time.
A childhood house is flooded with memories. New beginnings, birthdays, holidays and dinner parties, bat mitzvahs, a wedding and sadly, a funeral as my mom took her last breath in this house.
My last night in the house, I lay in bed and heard the familiar creak of the stair as someone walked up and the sound flooded me with memories of my father or mother retiring to bed or waking in the morning. Each wall of my room brought me back to the nights I dreamed about what my life would be like, cried and cried about a relationship I wanted or one that caused me heartache. The roof outside my window, I would sit on for hours, staring at the mountains consoling myself when things were not going well.
So many memories, too many to count and they all flood back with every step throughout the house. Almost 50 years of memories.
This was a year ago.
I wrote my thoughts down at the time but didn’t seem ready to share, to let go. And before I had a chance to publish these thoughts, my life took another unexpected twist. After 25 years in the home I moved to and raised my own children in, we decided to pack up and move. Two life changing moves in less than a year.
Last week my sons said goodbye to their childhood home. I said goodbye to the home I raised my own family in and the town I lived in for the second half of my life. As I read through my unpublished draft from last year, many of my thoughts for this move were the same.
Let’s just say I have been on an emotional rollercoaster.
Some days I was just focused on the task at hand (throwing out and packing) and other days feeling the tug of not wanting to leave something familiar.
I think the older you get the more memories there are to flood back, sentimentality taking a front seat. My job is to go through all the pictures. There are thousands. And all the things I have acquired over the years. The process takes days, weeks. How do you choose which memories to preserve? Where will the pictures and other mementos go? A house, full of stuff, each item important in some way. How do you pick and choose? Letting go is so hard as I toss things I saved for years that I just can’t keep.
I am surprised I don’t feel so bad after the deed is done. It is cleansing in a way. A new start.
In all honesty, I suffered from more than a few panic attacks. Sometimes, I couldn’t catch my breath. What am I doing? Am I nuts? So many people wondering why I would move from the suburbs; a pristine beach town with glistening ocean to the gritty, noisy, demographically diverse city.
I don’t know if my sons felt the emotional tug I did. Maybe down the road they will or maybe they have moved on to their new chapters, their own clean slate. The last night in our house, I lay in bed (as I did in my childhood home) and thought about my boys and all the memories the house held for them and for me. It would be the last night they would sleep in their room and I filled up with emotion. The next morning my oldest son was not to be found and it turns out he slept in the basement on the couch in front of the television. CLEARLY, I AM THE SENTIMENTAL ONE.
The house is emptied and it is time to leave.
People keep asking me questions about how I am feeling. Am I sad about it all?
Honestly, I am not sad. Am I supposed to be sad? Maybe the questions are more about how they would feel, if they decided to make a move, later in life.
1.in motion.“a fast-moving river”
synonyms: in motion, operating, operational, working, going, on the move, active; More
2.producing strong emotion, especially sadness or sympathy.“an unforgettable and moving book”
synonyms: affecting, touching, poignant, heartwarming, heart-rending, emotional, disturbing;
All of this is true. The “day to day” getting the job done and the other side which is feeling the emotion about doing it all.
The move has happened. It feels strange and good at the same time. It will take a while to get through the boxes and recover from the emotional and physical toll of moving.
In the end, this is about starting a new chapter, one that is unknown, takes a bit of courage and one I believe will be energize me and keep the blood flowing. I don’t know what life has in store for me, how many days I have, so why wait to make a change. To be at this point in my life where I can do this, is honestly unexpected and a blessing. This is going to be good.
This IS good.
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