Tuesday, December 10, 2019

This Old House

When we finally planned to move out of our old ancestral home, I swore up and down that I would never go back for a visit. I knew what that meant for me. After cleaning out my parent's walk-in closet, tossing the suits in one pile, sweaters and shirts in a another, memories of when they wore these items just came flooding through my mind, my heart, and eventually spilled out as tears. I couldn't do it anymore. Madelene had to take over, and by the time all was said and done, we had about 30 Hefty bags of every article of clothing they had ever owned. I took this one sweater my mom wore all the time and tucked it away in my own closet. I asked my siblings numerous times to come over to rummage through their room to take a keepsake or an item of clothing, but as soon as they did, the tears fell and they quickly ran out of their room. Totally understandable. I wanted to give them a chance to take what they wanted.

We still have a lot of stuff of our own inside that house. With the winter upon us, the cold air set in, which is why we turned off the water and drained all the pipes so that they wouldn't freeze. I'm not sure why we even did that, but we wanted to respect a home that kept us warm in the winter, cool in the summer and supplied running water for all these years. Yesterday, we made our way back to this old house to pick up more dribs and drabs of our belongings, especially our Christmas decorations. As soon as I walked into the first living room, I felt the intense coldness---and it was a 55 degree day. The temperature was 30 degrees inside, with a temp of 55 on the outside. It stunk like something had died in the crawl space. As I walked further, we noticed that it was leaking water near the load bearing wall right before you walk into the main living room. Part of the first room looked like it was flooded out for some time. It used to do that when we were there, but we took care of it right when it happened. But nobody lives there anymore. Nobody is caring for a house that was once pampered until the end.

I kept walking through the house, quickly picking up my belongings, but the coldness numbed my fingers and my legs started to freeze up. I got as much as I could, and then yelled upstairs, "I gotta sit in the car, Madelene---I can't do this." She totally understood. As I sat in the car waiting, I felt this heaviness, this intense weight on my chest that wouldn't let up. I took a photo of the property and group messaged all three of my sisters, telling them how much I missed it here---how I missed all of us---a "once upon a time us." It wasn't so much the house itself, it was the people in it which made it heartbreaking to leave. Thoughts of these huge Thanksgiving dinners had with all of our relatives and friends. Christmas Eves were decked out, while dad and mom cooked up The Feast of the Seven Fishes for family and anyone who needed a place to go. Summers were the best at this house! The pool was always occupied. We would be out that early in the morning, and by noon, mom was shuffling out to the pool area in her flip flops and shorts, along with a tray of sandwiches and iced tea. I know I can't go back, and not that I want to, but leaving that house feels like I'm abandoning it in a weird way. Even if we were to stay, the house wouldn't benefit us anymore. It's way too big to heat and maintenance, and it's extremely desolate in the winters. It became dangerous to live there in the winters due to the extreme weather conditions. Not even all wheel drive could plow through that any longer. I needed a place that would make me feel safer and closer to everything.

A close friend of mine said, "Are you gonna miss that million dollar view?" And I didn't even need time to think about it. I said, "Living in a place I feel safe in is worth a billion dollars." My peace of mind is too important to stay in a house with a beautiful view. Besides, I prefer condo living anyway. I love listening to the sounds of cars, church bells, distant trains and even sirens. I prefer the sounds of the 'city'---although it's not quite the city. When I lived in the old house, sometimes I would put on "sounds of the city" on my Calm App to get me to sleep. It reminds me of when I used to spend time at my grandma's house. We woke up to the sounds of garbage trucks, kids playing outside and cars passing by. We heard the trains and the church bells---which were music to my ears. Many would prefer where I used to live: a ton of property with a gorgeous view and hardly any neighbors. All you hear are birds, crickets, and the occasional pack of coyotes at night. My favorite was listening to owls "hoot" back and forth to one another while I fell asleep with the windows open. Of course there's a peacefulness to it, but without the people to fill the home, it was no longer "home" any longer. It was time to move on.

With that being said, after yesterday's visit, I feel like I have a "sadness hangover" from everything. Thank God for coffee! As I snap out of it, and appreciate all that I do have---all that I have prayed for, my heaviness is lifting from me little by little. The holidays feel strange in this new home, but I'm trying my best!

I guess it's to be expected. I'm grateful for what I had, and also grateful for what I do have. My heart may hurt a little here 'n there, but all in all, it's not so bad here.

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