You know… I talk a really big game about how we move from one house to another without the inconvenience of the emotional ties that most people feel with their homes. But, the truth is I was not always this way. I’ve had my heart broken. And it all came rushing back to me this week when I saw pictures of the one that got away… the last place that really felt like home.
My mom sent my brother and me (yes this is proper grammar, it’s not “my brother and I”, contrary to popular belief) a Zillow link earlier this week and when I opened it up my heart jumped up into my throat. It’s kinda like the feeling that you got in college when you saw your ex with a new chick for the first time. Like, WOW, haven’t thought about you for ages, but I wasn’t expecting that gut check. Unfortunately for me, whenever this happened I was usually wearing sweatpants and slippers complemented by unclean hair whilst eating a bag of Oreos in the grocery store checkout line. Sigh.
As I opened up the first picture I felt sad. The people who’d bought our HOME hadn’t taken care of it. The yard is unkempt and every window, for whatever reason, looks different.
As I kept clicking through the pictures, the memories kept flooding back. It became clear that I am far too hormonal to be taking this trip down memory lane, but it was too late.
My mom, my brother and I moved from a 1400 square foot house to this split-level beauty, with a brief six month layover at my Grandmother’s house, in 1995. We were so excited to have more room and to be in a neighborhood closer to all of our friends. Mom was having some work done in the house before we moved in, plus my Grandmother (THE GRANDMAMA, if you please) forbid us to move out of her house before Christmas. I remember being so excited to drive over to check out the new house and Mom had put a few Christmas lights in the bushes out front and we made pallets on the living room sofas and floor and all slept in there together for our first night.
I think it was so hard to look at these pictures because it’s been so long since I’ve seen the inside of this house. It seems so much smaller. Funny how life does that I guess. There was so much love and laughter in these rooms and I can still see so clearly the way that we were back then. I moved out after graduation to go to college in 2000, and my brother moved out in 2002. We came home for the holidays and it was always so fun, although probably not for mom since we’d stay out almost all night partying with our old high school friends who were all back in town too.
The last time I was in this house was in 2006. I was living in a different town with my then fiancé (for my first practice-run marriage), but this place still felt every bit like home to me. My mom had been in an accident that changed her financial situation and she made the decision to sell our home. When I walked out of the kitchen door for the last time, something inside me knew that no house would ever feel the same. My first, and only, house heartbreak.
And I was right. Since that day, while I’ve lived in lots of beautiful houses, no place that I’ve settled has ever felt like home. That was the last place that we were kids. The last place that our fundamental family of three lived under one roof. The last place where I had no responsibility. The last place where my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandmother could all come over on a spur of the moment Saturday night.
I understand now that this house felt like home because of all of the love and laughter and memories created there. It was a nest that I was meant to leave. And I left. But that doesn’t mean that my heart did.
Now that Lane and Lila and I are (mostly) settled in our new house, I’m beginning to get visions of the Christmases there. The friends that will gather there. The memories that we will create as our OWN family there.
It’s so strange that I can look at these pictures and feel like I’m seventeen again, but really I’m twice that age now, and right in the middle of creating a nest for my own babies. Dare I say that my heart may have settled in a new place?
I am looking forward to every single memory that will make this house our home, and heartbreak or not, I wouldn’t be here without the life that we lived in the one that got away.