Sunday, October 26, 2014

Moving Memories

A few days after I was born I was brought by my parents to my first home.  It was a small, 1,000-ish square foot slab ranch adjacent to Cleveland Hopkins Airport.  The only memory I have of this home is of sitting on the living room floor looking in to the kitchen, and seeing my father moving the refrigerator out of its spot and taking it outside.  I had no idea refrigerators could be moved!!  I was three and we were moving to the suburbs.

I lived in the mint green split level on Monica Drive until I was 18, when I moved into my friend's one bedroom apartment.  Each night I opened the fold-out love seat, pulled the mattress off and slept there on the living room floor.  My clothes were kept in the coat closet by the front door.  We both left the apartment on Friday mornings, heading to work with clothes for the weekend in the back seats of our cars.  We spent the weekends with our parents and our boyfriends, then came back "home" on Sunday night.  It was a nice year of freedom, but it wasn't a home.

After that year I moved back in with my parents.  The lease was up and my friend wanted to move back toward where she grew up, which was even farther from work than where I grew up.  And I was facing surgery and six weeks' of recuperation so moving home for mom to take care of me, as unpleasant as the prospect was, made sense. 

A year after that I moved in with The Ex.  Mom and Dad were still there on Monica drive, and I went there to visit every 2nd Sunday. I never intended to move back there, but I also didn't feel like I had to say goodbye to my home.  

We lived in a 14 x 70 tin can for the next six years.  I tried my best to make it homey, but with its wall to wall carpet (even in the kitchen and bathroom), floor to ceiling paneling (colored, patterned paneling in the kitchen and bathroom), leaky plumbing, leaky windows and an electrical system that didn't allow me to make coffee and blow dry my hair at the same time, let's just say that when I finally talked The Ex into buying a house I was more than ready to say good riddance to the old tin can.

We bought our first house.  A respectable starter home, a 1,000-ish square foot slab ranch in a decent blue-collar neighborhood.  It was on a postage-stamp sized lot, onto which the prior owners expanded the 2 car garage to a 4 car garage, leaving a "back yard" so small that I could stand in the middle and touch both the house and the garage.  And the front yard was so small that The Boy, when he reached his toddler years, could easily dart into traffic before I could grab him.  So, six years after buying that house, we built a home back in our little home town.  

I really expected to feel sad when we left "the baby house" as The Boy would grow to call it.  I remember a slight pang of melancholy as I walked out of my baby's nursery, a tiny, bright room with teddy bear and confetti wallpaper.  But that brief sadness was wiped away by the excitement of moving into a brand new home.  Almost double the square footage.  A clean slate.

The Ex wanted land.  Every house we looked at was met with the same criticism..."The yard isn't big enough to shoot my crossbow".  I wanted a house in a neighborhood like the one where I grew up.  A cul-de-sac where kids could play kick ball in the circle, all of the families knew each other, kids came home when the street lights came on.  But The Ex wanted a house like where he grew up.  A big piece of land on a state route.  No sidewalks.  Neighbors, if any, had to be far away.  The more secluded the better.  

This was one of the few battles The Ex won.  We ended up on almost an acre and a half on a country road.  

It's been 17 years since we moved into this house and today, as I cleaned out the kitchen closet, packing up everything I don't think we'll need in the next three weeks, it feels like just last week that I was filling it up for the first time.  I hate this yard, and I hate a lot about this house, but I love my kitchen.  And as much as I am absolutely in love with the little house I'll be moving into in less than three weeks, it makes me a little sad to be disassembling the kitchen here.  Watching the counter become more and more bare.  Seeing the empty cupboards and the bare wall where pictures used to hang.  Especially the bare refrigerator doors that used to hold school pictures of The Boy, The Girl, nieces and friends.

I never understood why people get sad when they move.  I mean unless you're getting kicked out of your home or you're leaving due to divorce, it should be a happy time.  And this is.  I can't wait to get into my new house and begin the next chapter of my life.  I have no delusions about who I am.  I was an empty nester for a few months earlier this year and will be again once I move.  I'm looking forward to having a house and yard that don't completely overwhelm me with their need for attention, maintenance and repairs.  I can't wait to start painting and decorating with nobody's taste in mind but my own.  I always knew I'd leave this house when The Boy was grown so I've sort of felt like a temporary tenant for the last few years. I just kept the place in halfway decent shape in anticipation of selling it when the time came.  I will invest time and money into the next house, not feeling like I'm throwing it into an endless void but feeling like I'm investing in my future.  

But with all that said, today I felt a little sad.  This is where The Boy celebrated 18 of his 19 birthdays.  He skate boarded and played basketball in that driveway.  This is where The Girl spent every weekend from the time she was 7 until she was 12.   My favorite dog ever was a puppy here, and he died here.  This is where I learned how to take care of a yard, change locks, work the grill.  And this is where I was part of a family.  Twice.  I've had great times on that deck, around that pool table, at that kitchen table and in this living room.  And I've had my heart broken here more than once.  Some of the happiest and all of the saddest times of my life happened in this house.  I won't leave those memories behind  I'll take them with me, so I don't know why it makes me so sad. 

But it does.