Home | Posts RSS | Comments RSS | Login

Jun 17, 2009

The First

Since selling my first, beloved house, I have been told by countless people, my parents included, that leaving your first house is among the hardest things a person will do in life, especially if children were ever there. In a way, I’m glad that I didn’t know how hard it would be beforehand, but it also would have been nice to be able to prepare. I don’t really do well with surprises, so when I started crying as I walked through the house for the last time, I was less than pleased with my unexpected emotional reaction. I cried twice about leaving the house, the other time being the last time I put Colin to bed in his room. Both times, it was Colin’s room that started it. Of course it was.

When Patrick and I first bought the house, we had whole rooms that were empty. It was so much more space than we needed, but it was exactly the kind of house we wanted and we felt incredibly lucky to have found it, enormous as it was. We said to each other that we would never fill it and that we would have to carry radios to talk to each other in the vast, vacant rooms. But, as people do, we expanded to fill the space we had. Within a year, we had filled the old house up and were making regular trips to the Goodwill. By the time we found out we were pregnant, there was no place to put a baby.

But the baby was coming whether he had a bedroom or not, so we carved out a place in our house for him and, in doing so, a place in our lives and hearts as well. Though I loved our house before he came along, it wasn’t until that room became a nursery that the rest of the house made sense. Then it was clear that that room was meant to be his nursery all along, we had just had to wait for him in order to see it.

Starting a family creates all kinds of sentimentality where it would otherwise be ridiculous. Driving around our neighborhood before leaving town for the last time, I got choked up at the most absurd things, like the CVS Pharmacy, where I bought the two-pack pregnancy test, the first of which confirmed that I had stomach cancer, and the second (a week later) confirmed that I was both a mother and an idiot. Or the neighbor’s house where I would regularly stop to use the restroom on my walks to try to convince Colin to be born early. Or the post office box where I mailed his announcement cards. Absurd, yes, but meaningful nevertheless.

The house was even worse. Finding all of his tiny little hats and mittens packing up his room. Remembering all the nights spent on the couch through the end of my pregnancy and while Colin was still tiny. Disassembling his crib. He would never know this house, this lovely house where we lived when we were all young and where he was brought home from the hospital in a tiny blanket and a not-tiny-enough outfit. Pictures would never do this house justice, and stories are not the same as standing there yourself, smelling and seeing, and tasting the air of home.

It was immeasurably helpful that we sold the house to a young, excited, lovely couple who reminded me and Patrick of younger versions of ourselves. This is their first house, the woman told me breathlessly, and they planned to stay the night on an air mattress, even though they live in town! They have all kinds of grand plans for the house and I could not be happier for them. It is a fantastic house, the best. I am not the type to get too hung up on a place or material things, but I doubt that I will ever love any place as much as I loved that house. And now someone else lives in my house, and I am now living in someone else’s house.

And so it was without shame that tears flowed as we walked out the door and drove away. But it was with great joy that I handed the house – and all the love and happiness that we experienced within it – over to a new set of owners. I couldn’t help but drive by the house one last time on the way out of town. The blinds were up, the door was open, and the sign was gone from the yard. Inside, the new owners were celebrating. My first house is ready for its next incarnation. And so are we.

2 Readers rock!:

Pennsy said...

A beautiful meditation, Katie. The good news is that you've left your house behind, but taken your home with you. That's what Colin wil treasure as much as you and Patrick treasure your memories of your first homestead...b

Katie said...

Katie, you're awesome and your latest posts have been amazing. I hope 3rd year is starting out fun!