As the men who were packing my house carefully wrapped my pictures and boxed up my photo albums, it occurred to me that these things are what I liked most about my home. Although the house was nice, it was really only the shelter for my life and now my life is somewhere else.
I have loved that house, but when I decided to move on I didn’t love it so much any more. The realtors who showed it to potential buyers pointed out the things that made it less than perfect and, as disappointing as that was, it made it easier to walk away. I am a bit like a flighty girlfriend who wants to love you forever, but somehow can’t help being attracted by others. There’s a line in a Tegan and Sara song that goes “I’m not unfaithful, but I’ll stray.” That’s how I am with houses.
The house I just left was going to be my forever house, and I put a lot into it. I had the garden landscaped with plants that were reminiscent of my dad’s garden. I installed a deck with an awning, a cobblestone paved patio, a media room, a purpose-built garden shed, two fireplaces. The works. Then, when it was all done, it became the first house I have ever lived in that didn’t need renovating, painting, or repairing. It was pretty much perfect, and that made my renovation skills redundant. My house no longer needed me.
It also turned out that the house was just too big. It was the place I wished I had when I was raising children, but with the children grown and gone there was just too much of it. I was living in just a small part of it– mostly on the couch, and that can go with me anywhere!
I bumped into a friend a few days ago and he told me that he and his wife were sitting in their living room trying to remember what was in their basement. It had been so long since they went down there that they had forgotten. Their children have long since left and their own activities take up less and less space. So they are moving into a smaller place. It just makes sense.
Once, people would stay in the family home as long as they could. Now, though, more retired people are moving on to different homes, and they are finding that you don’t leave memories behind. You take them with you. At least, you do if you can remember where you put them. If not, the guys who pack up the basement will find them, carefully wrap them, and send them along with the couch. They really know how to treat a lady.