The house that built me

“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

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I went home for the last time today.

As I sit here on the train, thinking about everything that happened in my that house, I feel a profound loss and my heart aches. While I haven’t lived in the house in over a decade, I’ve always felt a strong connection to it. It was always there. It was always home.

I remember when we moved into the house in the early 90s. I was around six years old. I loved my big bedroom,  I loved the secret room under the stairs where I could play with my dolls and share secrets with my friends and I loved climbing the apple tree in the backyard. It was suburban heaven.

suburban backyard deck and lawn

That house was where I had my first kiss, where I got the acceptance letter to my first choice of university, where I fell in love with my high school sweetheart and where we announced our engagement. It was also where I found out my dad was dying, where I said goodbye to my first dog before she was put down and where the birch tree in our front yard died after the big ice storm.

As I packed boxes with my mom and sister, we listened to upbeat music, trying to mask our melancholy. I carefully placed dishes into boxes and took the posters off my bedroom wall, feeling numb. I didn’t allow myself to fall apart.

Green and white bedroom

I remembered all the wonderful and not-so-wonderfully Christmases and sneaking goodnight kisses from my boyfriends on the front porch. I recalled all the phases my bedroom went through and how I felt when my parents made me switch to the small bedroom when I moved away to school. I took in my surroundings, realizing all the changes to the house over the years. It looked nothing like it did when we first moved there. It didn’t even feel like our house anymore.

The whole weekend felt surreal and slow, like it would never end. When I thought I would have a clean break, I went to say goodbye to my dog, and I shattered into a million pieces.

male golden retriever dog

Everything went blurry and the emotions I held in all weekend came flooding out in a shaky rush of tears. I was leaving the last memories of my dad, my childhood and my home behind.

The house and the neighborhood are a childhood dream. I hope the new family enjoys it as much as we did.

I’m grateful for every place I’ve lived, but there will never be anything quite like the house that built me.

brass house key on white surface

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