Recently, during a break in the build, and with some time on our hands, we decided to reflect on leaving our home of 25 years; what will we take with us, what will we leave behind, what has this place and home meant to us.  

I grew up in different houses; my parents bored easily so they looked forward to new builds and new towns. I didn’t take my friendships with me so I didn’t age with a sense of belonging.  My husband grew up in one house, in a small village in Scotland and to this day, returns often and still maintains friendships with nine of the men who shared his childhood; he knows where he belongs.

When we moved together in 1995, it was to join my parents and to create a home for all of us to grow and age, to live and die.  Our children were 3 ½, 3 ½ and 7.  My parents were 72 and 66.  Tom and I were somewhere in between.  The deal was we’d stay for at least 20 years, to create a sense of place, to build community and to forge lifelong friendships.  

It would be a fresh start for all, a place to live through many of life’s pleasures; school concerts, new jobs, first loves, birthdays, visitors, parties, driving licenses, dance recitals, holidays, anniversaries, soccer tournaments, first tattoos, celebrations; the stuff of love and life. And it would be where we would also endure our share of hardship, tragedies, accidents, surgeries, depression, heartbreak, funerals, sadness, arguments, break ups, leaving home; the stuff of love and life. Over time, our family has become smaller, our hearts have broken open, our bodies have aged.  Through it all we have opened our doors to many; shared our table, our money, our cars, our garden, our stuff, our time, our energy, ourselves.  

So when we leave later this year, we will take it all with us, in our hearts, in the life that lines our faces.  We are 25 years older and  filled with gratitude for what this house has been to us; a container in which to hold our lives, a place to call home, our safe place to land.

Few things will travel to our next home.  My parents’ belongings are long gone, we saved only some published works and a string of pearls. Our children’s things left home when they did, I don’t need the past, when I still have them in my present.  When we try to hang on to things, what we really long for is the memory of that past; what happened there, in that dress, around that table, with that loved one.   

This is where my mother and father died and the place we left for almost a year to take care of my dying mother in law. It’s where some passed exams, fell in love, fell out of love, learned to ride bikes and drive cars, lost teeth, built go karts, learned to cook, celebrated milestones, lost friendships, found confidence, laughed out loud, developed their strengths, found their voice, walked their truth.

What is it about leaving that makes us grieve, what is it about arriving that makes us cheer?  I think we long for a past we are certain of, a memory preserved. If we were truly present when it happened though, then we can’t really ever leave it behind, it’s already gone. 

So, whatever comes our way, we’ll be OK.  We are on steady ground here,  we trust what this new house will give us; a sense of place, a chance to belong and friends to welcome through our new front door.  And, no matter what happens, we’ll all still have each other.

Next time….let the framing begin.