Monday, June 28, 2010
This took courage. Not the photo, but putting my house, my home, on the market. Putting a dollar value on my home, asking someone to buy this precious place from me. The last seven weeks have been quite a ride, a ride just like the one I took with my friend in Las Vegas years ago. That ride? That was a roller coaster to the nth degree and the photo they offered us when we stumbled off the train and kissed the ground with the joy and relief of still being alive captured forever the what was I thinking terror on our faces.
I have lived here for nine years. Please put your roots down while your old man is still alive, my father had implored. I'm not sure I want to stay in Houston, Dad. I had responded. You're almost forty years old, your roots are already here. True.
With that, my mother and I searched high and low for what would be my home. At the time, she was one of Houston's top real estate agents, something I benefitted from immensely. She pointed out what was right and also wrong with this house or that; her sense of reality grounding my sense of dreamy. Together, we found the right place for me to put my roots. It was new and perfect. I easily imagined myself here, my life here. Mom explained all the good points of the house, an entryway, good closet space, the half bath being where the living space is, etc. I had stars in my eyes; she had the familiar satisfaction of a job well done.
That was nine years ago. Oh, the times I've had within these walls the past nine years. Six weeks into my new home, Tropical storm Allison hit Houston, and she hit us hard. Two friends lost their home; they were devastated. I flew to San Diego for my best friend's wedding and left them a message from the airport: Move in with me while you rebuild. What's the point of owning a home if I cannot offer my friends a place to stay when they are in need? They moved in. Sometimes it was a challeng but overall we had a blast. Three of us, three labradors and two cats. We went through 9/11 together, re-discovered White Russians together, and I'll always fondly remember some of their silly antics. They were the first of several roommates here and there over the years. There was a co-worker, my niece, my nephew, a respondant to an ad, and another friend from work.
I've hung Christmas lights at my doorway, decorated trees in the window, hung seasonal wreaths on the front door. I've opened the door to my father, led him inside, sat across from him in my living room and discussed serious issues. I've cooked and served dinner for my mother, and I've welcomed colleagues for a Christmas party. I've popped my share of champagne corks here and danced to Darius Rucker, in a glide across the livingroom floor. I've celebrated within these walls and I've been devastated within these walls. These walls have absorbed the grief of my parents' deaths, the screaming, collapsing devastion of losing the two most important people in my life. These walls have absorbed love, laughter, relationships, loss.
This house, it has held my life for the past nine years. But now, I have outgrown this friendly home of mine. I need better space arrangement but less space. I need to stop paying for the two storage units I have and I want to put those contents into my life. I want Cheyenne to have fewer stairs to climb and more yard to roam.
Deciding to sell this house and buy another was easy for me but when the changes began to take place, when all the framed art and photos came down from the walls, when the cabinets were emptied and the furniture covered so that the interior could be painted from top to bottom, I cried and cried because I knew this house would never be the same again, would never be put back together again. As much as I wanted the change, actually taking the initial steps was gut-wrenching for me. I told myself over and over again that the memories belong to me, not the background, not the walls. And I realized that it was the changes in me that I was reacting to, prompted by the upcoming change in address.
When I moved in here, both my parents were alive, my family was in tact. When I moved in here, I had many lessons ahead of me, lessons that have taught me so much about myself, my strengths, my faith and my faults. I hadn't yet stumbled my way through tremendous loss or grief, hadn't yet learned I could survive my biggest fears of losing my parents and my job. I hadn't yet acted like my father by planting trees and through the years proudly watching them grow to tower over me and provide me with shade. I hadn't yet watched the seasons change through daily walks in a neighborhood that was my very own. I hadn't yet discovered how truly strong I am, or how generosity comes from the heart and hands. I hadn't yet learned that letting go can be the biggest gift of love that I could give.
Soon, I will bundle up all those lessons and memories and move to a new house that will become a home. I'll unwrap precious photos and with them memories. I'll fill that house with myself and my life with lessons and celebrations, love and no doubt some sadness along the way. I'll plant a tree for my father, and watch it grow. And on accasion, I will drive by this house and pause a moment, admire the two trees and recall the day I planted them. I'll wistfully shake my head and wonder at the passage of time, and I will smile.