We just moved. I don’t mean like in the last year or so. I mean literally yesterday. Half the things in the room with me right now are still covered in cellophane. Needless to say, it’s been a bit of a hectic time.
Our last home was a condo in a development and I loved it from the start. Coming from basement apartments, underneath people who let their two year old scream for five hours at a time, it was like entering the Willy Wonka factory that first day. I walked around in stunned silence. It was perfect for my wife and I and more than we could have ever wanted.
This was back in 2006. It was actually the same weekend that Steve Irwin died. I remember watching the news coverage as I unpacked and it has always stuck with me. Whenever I think of my first days there, I think of the Crocodile Hunter.
Of course, that was 12 years ago. When we moved in, our family was only two and, since then, we’ve doubled in size. With that has come occasional complaints about cramped space, close quarters, and much needed storage. While I dragged my feet for years, I always knew the inevitable. Sadly, we had really outgrown our home.
Keep in my mind, I love the new house. Much like our last home in those early moments, it’s more than I ever would have imagined. I walked around in the same stunned silence and was blown away by all that it offered beyond our old home. It fits us perfectly and seems to fulfill all the missing pieces of our outgoing residence.
Yet, there were three important things I learned during this move. Some realizations were slower than others, but they all came through eventually.
The first is that my wife did not tell me that we can throw out all the towels because we bought new ones. I must have dreamed that or imagined it or something. My surprise was only outmatched by hers upon hearing that, for the past few weeks, I was throwing cloth towels in the garbage after one use as if I was a billionaire. Talk a shower, toss it in the trash. Wash my face, toss it in the trash. I felt like I should be wearing a monocle and tuxedo. Basically, I treated them like tissues. Beach towels, bath towels, any towels – tissue trash. While I know now how it was the wrong thing to do and my wife couldn’t comprehend why I thought she would say that, I have to be honest. Between you and I, it was a really fun experience. I highly recommend it.
I also learned that all the things that I lost through the years and assumed would resurface with the move, haven’t. Either we threw them out, our loved ones burgled us, or the house ate them. I mean, we found baby clothes and unopened mail, but nothing major. Whatever the reason, that Lego Batman is gone forever.
The biggest discovery, though? Our home was more than just a place to live. It was a part of our family. Those walls were much more important to me than I ever realized.
It wasn’t until we were on our way out the door that I truly understood the role it played in our lives and the growth of us as a unit. It’s in the background of most of our family photos and it, like us, has evolved through the years. Guest rooms have turned into kids rooms. Areas that were once cold and empty became loud and colorful. Our lives changed and our home changed with it.
To put it plainly, this may not have been the home I grew up in when you use that term in the traditional sense. It is, however the home I grew up in as it was the place where my wife and I went from eager twenty-somethings just learning to play house to confident forty-somethings who know enough to tell kids how to behave. Sometimes the periods of our lives where we grow up the most don’t happen in our childhood. This is one of those cases.
Everything happened in that house. We brought our babies home to it. We hosted parties there. It was the place where I learned to understand, experience, and eventually accept Autism. We battled hurricanes, floods, and nor’easters there. It was where we grieved after losing some of our favorite people in the world and where we celebrated our greatest achievements. It’s the home that I had some of the happiest moments of my life in and it’s the home I nearly died in.
Leaving was a hard reality to wrap my head around, but slowly, I came to grips with it. Spending the day ripping through the rooms and taking your belongings out is enough to change anyone’s perception. By the time I was done loading bags and boxes, it didn’t feel like the same place anymore. The walls were still there, but the spirit of our family wasn’t. It wasn’t our home and I could feel that.
When I arrived at our new house, all of my family and all of our belongings were waiting for me. While it might not feel quite like home yet, that spirit of us is there. You can feel it in the air and I know it will grow to blanket the whole property, much as it did before.
We’ve immediately begun to make new memories in our new house and every passing moment brings more. I’ll always love the home we left behind, but I know that our new one will bring the same roller coaster of emotions that I had experienced in our old one for over a decade.
This is our home now. It has space. It has potential. Most of all, it has us.