The House That Built Me

Today I said goodbye to the only Home I have ever known. About a year ago, my parents made the decision to build a house closer to where I live. I seemed to have been denial about this even though we consistently went to check on the progress when they visited. My parents would certainly back out, right? As that expiration date drew nearer, I realized my time with my childhood Home was limited.

One thing I try to hide from the world is that I am a very sensitive person, at least for things that matter most to me. Over the last few months I have cried more than I ever have in my lifetime. I lay in bed and the sobs would unexpectedly rise in my throat. I suppressed them until the feeling became too intense. I sobbed harder and longer than ever before, something I don’t have a recollection of ever doing in my lifetime. And I couldn’t stop either.

This Home was more than just four walls and a roof to me. To me, home isn’t a place; it’s a feeling. This Home offered up a love greater than I’ll ever know again. It was the keeper of every single memory from the last 32 years of my life. It was the steady constant in my life- someplace I always thought I could return when I needed to silence my nomadic heart or when I just needed to be enveloped in a hug. Somehow the contentment in the familiar helped with that. If home was where the heart was, then that was the only Home I’d ever known. My heart was irrevocably there. I couldn’t change that if I tried because everything of importance in my life had once been in that very place.

Maybe it had been naïve of me to think I would someday inherit that Home, and when I would one day be all alone in this world, I would walk through that front door and feel the love of my family. Being there would somehow mean I would never really be on my own.

Every time I enter that house now my mood shifts. I am enveloped in so much love. I am lighter. I am happier. I have never felt that same feeling anywhere else. No other house has ever been my Home, and I fear that no other house ever will be.

My memories are tied up in this Home. My past remains there. Every person I have ever loved spent time within those walls and I can still feel their presence.

No other house will ever hold those memories or the presence of those who have passed. No other house will watch my family grow. I’ll never play baseball in the driveway with my dad again. I’ll never get ready for a gymnastics meet, pet my dog, or hug my grandparents. I’ll never walk down the stairs on Christmas morning with the same zest as a child. You might say those are just memories and I’ll make new ones somewhere else, but I’ll never make the same kind of memories.

You see, I may never get married and I never plan on having children so no other house will ever experience my own family the way this one did. Someday I potentially will be all alone in this world and that is perhaps why I cling to my Home tighter than most. Those are the only memories I’ll have of a family or a childhood. When I walk into my childhood Home, I am bonded to something I’ll never know again. I feel the love of a family made over 32 years. When I walk into any other house, it’s just a house. Even the house I live in now, which I love dearly, feels empty in comparison.

To my parents, the selling of my childhood Home is a fresh start, the next chapter of their lives. To me it represents the passage of time. It is a forced reminder that we are all aging and life cannot stay the same forever. I am no longer a child, nor do I have a place I can go back to when I need to feel that innocence.

Recently, I was given the German cuckoo clock that hung in our family room my entire life (and in my grandparents’ house before that). The steady tick, tick, tick calms me. I wasn’t expecting that. When I close my eyes, I almost get the sense I am Home, and all of my memories come flooding back. It’s like I’m sitting right there on the couch snuggling with my grandpa, watching TV with my grandma, getting ready for a sleepover with my closest friends, or opening presents on Christmas morning. For a moment, I am a kid again. The flashbacks don’t last, but at least I have something to hold on to.

Somehow what should have been the true memento mori of my life is actually the very item that reassures me.  It doesn’t completely absolve the sale of the only Home I’ve ever known, but at least it makes me feel a bit less anxious to go through life without it.

Goodbye. You were more than just the house that built me.  You were the Home that built me.

I’ll see you in my dreams.

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