My family and I are moving to a new home in three days and three sleeps.
A few nights ago, it was hot and my baby was awake past his bedtime.
In an effort to cool us both down a bit, I took him to the backyard to lay on the earth.
After he settled back down in his crib, I was feeling emotional about leaving, which inspired me to write this goodbye letter to the house.
The cool ground underneath my back.
The brown blanket that came from a bed in a bag.
The deep blue of the evening sky.
The green lilacs, heavy and dropping with leaves because I would never let my husband prune them.
The baby’s face and smooth skin after the bath.
I know every inch of this yard.
The hose pipe stand with it’s grey-blue fading paint.
Every creep of morning glory. Every shoot of lilac.
This was the place to which I returned after every humiliating first date.
This house has contained every tragedy and heartbreak and disappointment over seven years of living.
One book club when no one read the book and my daughter threw up a strawberry-flavoured cupcake in her bed. The magic of the friend who stayed to change the sheets while I bathed the baby.
So many broken hearts. The tears.
It’s impossible now, to think of someone else staring out of this kitchen window in her brassiere with a cup of coffee, living out her own small dramas.
I lost two babies in this house, after all.
Poor little fishies. How can I leave them, somewhere in the plumbing?
My husband and I were married in this backyard.
The wedding arch is in pieces now, ready to be reassembled with our new life. So much beautiful driftwood.
It’s not that I’m not excited for this new life.
Not that I’m not ready to leave things behind that no longer serve us or didn’t fit to begin with (but at one time, I had no choice.)
I am grateful for the bigger, nicer house in the nicer neighbourhood, within walking distance to our daughter’s school.
But I came of age here in every sense of the term.
I lost things and people (and me.)
I found things and people (and me.)
I stared and stared out this window into the hedge beyond. Seeing blue jays and nothing and everything.
My babies came home here; both of them (though at different ages) made their first home in these walls.
I was married and divorced in this place. Standing in similar spots.
I phoned Lindsay to tell her of the latter, “He left. He said I was weak and a quitter”.
How was I to know, then, that five years later, I would walk arm-in-arm with my dad to marry Lindsay’s’ brother in that same spot?
She wore a yellow dress and held blue hydrangeas. Our brothers wore grey suits and baseball caps.
Strains of Into the Mystic (Colin James version, sorry Ben).
All of it here.
This house is everything and this house is nothing.
Nothing has happened here that couldn’t or wouldn’t have happened wherever else I was at the time.
But still, everything that has happened to me in the past seven years has happened to me here.
Even if it happened at the hospital or at a boyfriend’s house or at the park or the school or my job, I came back here to cry about it. Or drink about it. Or laugh on the phone with my friends about it.
I have been a mother the entire time I lived here, you see. A single mother for much of it. Single mothers spend a lot of time at home. (Or maybe that’s just me. I am a Cancer. A weird mix of intro and extrovert.)
I was depressed here.
I fell in love here. I fell out of love here.
I was hurt in my heart and slapped in my face.
My children vomited on the floor.
I brought home a puppy, a week after I bought new carpets, because that’s how I am.
Before this, for my late teens and early twenties, I moved at least once a year. I have never had a home as long as I’ve had this one.
Even though sometimes it felt haunted and foreign to me, I have lived here longer than any other home I’ve made for myself.
I did my first yoga practices in the living room, on the old shag carpet (brown and orange). I had printed out yoga poses from YogaJournal.com. I had no idea what I was doing.
I meditated for the first time too. To Louise Hay Her voice telling me to forgive myself. To love myself anyway.
Oh, the mistakes I have made here. Mistakes with people whom I should never allowed across the threshold.
(I’m sorry. I am so sorry.)
I have been left. Alone and naked in every sense.
(I forgive you. I am trying to forgive you.)
I have hidden. Ignored the doorbell and the ringing phone.
Called 911 twice. One of those times, the police came. I didn’t feel safe here then.
I’ve burned it all. Burned all the fears. Written them and burned them. In pots, in the toilet, in the fire pit in the backyard.
Sometimes the fears still crept in.
I’ve kicked out so many ghosts, so many times. The ghosts come back, you know. Will they follow me to the new house? Will I be exorcised?
A house. A house that has housed all of those things. All of the women I have been.
A sick and sad single mother.
A wild and careless woman who dated (“dated”) more men than I can even remember.
Seeking, seeking; sometimes finding.
I did my yoga teacher studies at that very desk.
I dropped out of grad school at that same desk.
I called friends in the middle of the night “I need your help. I need you to talk me down”.
I hosted my own thirtieth birthday party in the back yard. We made paper cranes as decorations. My friends donated money to the paper crane foundation. It deluged. I was happy.
I remember. I forget.
I will leave her behind. She will always be with me.
So many contradictions. So many wounds. So much healing. Tears and laughter and books and meals and meds. Birth and death and new love and old hate.
The ones I love will come with me to this new place. There is no tragedy here. Not now. But there is loss.
Goodbye, house. Goodbye. Thank you.
Tell me your feelings about home. It’s a loaded term, non? Is a house just a house? Do you feel attached? How does moving on manifest for you? Comment below.
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