Today, I sold my house. My family’s house. A house that got both of my girls from middle school into adulthood. A house that birthed new traditions and went through a lot of painting and revamping and furniture exchanges and room changes. A house that felt the clip-clip-clip of eight paws on the hardwood floors day in and day out. A house that was a little bit country and a little bit rock -n- roll. A house that held a thriving business and witnessed two novels being written. A house that saw the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers win, win and win some more season after season. A house that carried the smells of the best deep fried turkey known to mankind and rotisserie chickens on the grill and fish and chips and melting ribs and boiling pasta. A house that had a garage door entrance that made a particular squeak when it was opened…but only after a round a golf. A house that sent off two girls from high school and into college, with all the fanfare we could muster. A house that heard cries and arguments and debates and doors slams and barking…non stop…and within all of that…so much laughter. A house that was a gathering place on major holidays and where many have laid their heads on our pillows, even if just for one night. A house that the felt the cold ripple of too much hairspray in the air on prom nights and a house that carried in its walls the deepest heartaches and sadness I have ever known in my lifetime.
When I was a kid, I grew up in an old row home in New Jersey. The house was maybe 100 years old when I lived in it, and when my father was building a set of furniture for my room, we tore off some of the baseboards near the floor. I remember seeing a few layers of wallpaper underneath, wallpaper from the early 1900s, and one of the layers was full of Scottie dogs. When I saw that, I began to wonder: who was it who lived in my room before me? What were their names, what were their stories?
Our house was a brand new home. We had it built because Eric stumbled across the new street under construction in the new neighborhood one day while he was playing golf at the neighborhood’s course. He saw that this was a house on a golf course that we could actually afford…unlike the ones in Cary. This was at the top of the market, so we paid top price for it. By the next year, we, like everyone else, were desperately underwater on our mortgage, but since we weren’t going anywhere anytime soon, that was alright. We had put down some real roots.
When we decided to move to the country from the suburbs, our youngest daughter Ally did not want to. She was angry with us, cried every night, claimed she was “scared” to sleep in her new room and wanted nothing to do with the house at all. She said it wasn’t home, and it took her a long time to accept that we were staying there for good.
In the family picture of us standing in front of it under construction, you can see Ally is not in it. It’s because she flat out refused to be in the photo. Eventually, she grew to make Pittsboro her home, and I’m sure that she cannot imagine her life without the people and experiences of this quirky rural place in Chatham County, North Carolina.
There’s a song by Miranda Lambert called “The House That Built Me.” It’s a great bit of songwriting about a girl who goes back to visit the house she grew up in: the back room where she learned guitar, her handprints on the front porch, the backyard where her favorite dog is buried. My girls, my husband, my family were the first people in this home. It holds our color choices, our layout, our landscaping decisions…our stories, our memories.
So it got me thinking…someday, if the new owner starts chipping away at the paint on the upstairs loft, will he see that underneath, one side is yellow and one side is blue? Will he wonder why in the world we painted it like that? Will he wonder about the scuffs left behind on the closet walls where our luggage used to be? All the land in this world that our has luggage touched? Will he wonder why the hardwood floor is worn in certain places in my husband’s office? Where he ran the wheels of his chair as he worked everyday? Will he wonder about the random golf ball probably left behind by mistake, underneath some hiding spot in the garage? And all the shots that were taken with it just over on the other side of the street? Will he see the sloppy blue hand writing on a Post It note that tells you how to turn on the sprinkler system…and wonder about the story behind the man who wrote it?
Will his children stand in my daughters’ bathroom and think about the faces that have looked back in that mirror over the years? Will they hang their clothes in the closets of their rooms and realize that all the fashions those shelves have held already? Will they see a piece of tape left behind on the upstairs ceiling and realize that there was once a balloon taped there…something special was being celebrated.
Houses are holders of stories and memories and people and time. Our house is no different. It was necessary to leave it for many reasons, to make it someone else’s for now, because while the house will always be a treasured place for us in our hearts, it is not home anymore. It is empty, truly devoid of its heart now, now needing a new one altogether.
Home is a place that we will have to find again. And until we do, my girls and I have each other, we have our memories and the ground-floor history making of the wonderful place we called “home” for so long with my husband and their father. And he is with us no matter where we go.
Thanks for reading,