I am saying goodbye to my house next week. I didn’t think I would be so suddenly sentimental about the place, given how keen I was on getting out of it for the last year or so. But now that it’s time, I realize that wow, there’s a lot of memories here I’m leaving behind once and for all.
We brought home two new babies to this house, celebrating milestones like first birthdays and first steps and first days of school. This is the only place they’ve ever called home. We said goodbye to two most amazing dogs, right there in the living room while I sat on the floor with their heads in my lap. We’re leaving the patio where even now, three years later, I still look out beyond the fence and imagine Callie strolling over to us as if no time had passed, full of guilt for one mistake so many ages ago.
It’s not the house I will miss, wooden bones and wires perched on a hill, the faucet you have to wiggle a certain way. It’s the memories, of the way Brody would walk on the pool net, or Mulan would flop under the ficus to rest. Emmett jumping into the pool to “save” my sister’s shih tzu who was a frantic swimmer. Teaching Brody to surf in the shallow end. We said several goodbyes, but also many hellos.
These are memories that persist in my head, since the backdrop is here every day to remind me and make them seem maybe not so far away. But when we leave, they will recede into the recesses of my brain and become dusty with disuse, a mental picture to be recalled only with effort. It’s bittersweet.
I think maybe it would be a little less sad were we moving directly to a new chapter I was super excited about, but, yeah, not so much. I’m trying not to channel Marvin from The Hitchhiker’s Galaxy when I talk about the next year, but it’s hard. Nobody wants to sell their house right now (except, apparently, us.) I say cheerily to people who ask that “we are moving into an apartment while we wait for the right house to pop up on the market.” It sounds nicer than “we’re settling into purgatory for the indefinite future,” but they all respond with pity anyway. Some people nod in a noncommittal manner, but there is a small but vocal subset of the population who invariably respond with alarm. This group is women with small children and/or children who were once small.
It came up with my doctor, herself a mother of three, after she took my blood pressure and I felt the need to explain the numbers. “You’re moving into an apartment HOW big?” she asked. She lowered the chart and fixed me with her sharp blue eyes. “With two kids and two dogs.” I nodded.
“It’ll be fine,” I said, smiling a little too widely. “It’s just for a few months.”
She shook her head and made a note. “Call me if you need some Xanax.” pause. “And you will.”
The other responses were similarly uplifting. “I did that last year. Almost got a divorce.”
“You do realize that is a terrible proposition, right? I did that once. I was probably an alcoholic for a few months’ time.”
There’s nothing to be done about it now, really. Keep a stiff upper lip and all of that. My mother reminded me that her mother had 17 brothers and sisters growing up in her Irish Catholic family, and somehow they all managed in tight quarters, but if I recall after the fistfights died down at the one and only family reunion we were allowed to attend they didn’t exactly relish the closeness. And not all of them avoided jail time in life.
If I’m working from an optimistic worldview, I could say that my cabin fever will simply translate into more time in the great outdoors and Brody and I will simply go for a 5 hour run every day and I will come out the other side tanner and triumphant. Why don’t we go with that hypothesis for now.
But yes, we’re settling into purgatory for the indefinite future. Send brownies.