We’re down to 30 days until closing on the sale of our house. Ian and my feelings on this pending sale oscillate between relief and mourning. It’s just a house, an old house, with ugly siding, a creepy cellar, toilets that bubble when another one is flushed. As we worked tirelessly during those weeks leading up to its market debut, we thought, and even said out loud, many times a day how much we were looking forward to the problems needing fixing becoming someone else’s problems for fixing. Well, Lord willing, we’re passing that baton May 13. But I can’t help but feel waves of reluctance as I anticipate that day.
We’ve been in this house for a relatively brief time, unevenly straddled around a year and half of renting the house out to some dear friends while were away living in a glorified storage unit in Northern Va. So I guess by the time we leave we will have only lived here for 2 and a half years, which is apparently long enough for me to have gotten very attached. More attached than I ever thought possible when were trying to figure out for MONTHS where that sewer smell was coming from, more attached than I ever thought possible when I’d all but lose my toes to the freezing cold draft coming up through the floor and poorly sealed seams by the kitchen sink. This poor house has been cursed under my visible breath during many a wintry dish washing session.
And really, compared to Ian I know nothing of the toil of working and maintaining an old house; he’s put in an immeasurable amount of time and skill into making this house as comfortable and beautiful as it is now. This house is marked with his efforts to make this house a home for his family.
Since we accepted the offer on the house, an irresistible one that came three days after the house hit the market, I started to look at these rooms, hallways, bathrooms, and garden beds with very different eyes. The relief of being done with the house showing process was quickly replaced with nostalgia, mourning, and savoring. I realize that I’m not losing the memories that were born under this roof, but I think I am losing a closeness to them that I may never experience again.
I know where all the squeaking boards are throughout the house, particularly in the nursery. I can avoid them perfectly on my way in to and out from checking on the girls. During the day when everyone’s awake and I go about the room with less care, I can anticipate the distinct chord each board will play under my foot. And every time I hear a certain one, I remember how it was that I became so aware of them in the first place: trying to keep our 3 week old Simone asleep after laying her down in that big bare bed in that awkwardly huge nursery that just felt so foreign to her 7 pound self. At the time, she’d only ever known and preferred the square footage of a womb. One little creak would’ve alerted her to this very vulnerable situation, to which she would respond with immediate hysterics.
On warm afternoons that we’re stubbornly braving without the AC, the heat gets trapped on the landing on the second floor and releases a smell from the plaster walls and the wood floors and the time that’s had it’s way with them both. It’s not our family smell, it’s the smell that belongs to this house and this house alone, and every time a waft of it hits me I am instantly back to the first time Ian and I walked these halls and inspected these walls and wondered if they would ever be our home. There was a lot going on in our lives at the time, we’d just found out we were pregnant and then weeks later found out the baby didn’t live past 8 weeks; and somehow that smell, that I unexpectedly encounter on certain days as I ascend our stairs, takes me back to the hardship and sweetness of that poignant time. In leaving this house, I’m afraid of never getting that closeness back. It’s the next best thing to reliving life since past.
Anyway, as usual I’ve said a lot more than I’ve intended, and still managed not to say what I came here to say in the first place, which is these 4 things: that I need to be more disciplined about writing, that there’s never a better time than the present, that I love this house and the life that’s filled it during our time in it, and that I want to commit to putting my parting reflections down on a daily basis until May 13. We’ll see what comes of it.
Proof that I can successfully cross the mine field of squeaky floor boards