Today I'm saying goodbye to a house. It doesn't know I'll never see it again — it has no idea that this will be the last time I'll walk within its walls. It doesn't even recognize the sheer volume of memories it holds; how many tears and smiles and adventures it has seen. But I am here to say goodbye. It almost feels as if I'm visiting a dying relative and saying our last goodbyes; I'm lingering almost embarrassingly as if I want to address each wall, each room, each hallway individually and say, "thank you for the memories." It's not my house or even my parents' house; no, it's the home of my grandparents. A home where my own mom played with dolls and brought home her first boyfriend. A home where I came to spend weeks in the summer — cried tears of homesickness, played house with my cousins, enjoyed early morning french toast and late night root beer floats. I moved a lot growing up — I don't have a "childhood home" to come back to, but I've always had my grandparents' home. In the 29 years I've been alive it has changed very little; part of why it pains me to say goodbye is the fact that I will no longer be able to visit my younger self. Every time I come back I revisit the 8-year-old me, the 13 year-old-me. Forgotten memories resurface, and old smells and sights allow me brief glimpses of the world as I saw it as a child.
The house has proven to be too much for my grandparents in their advanced age; they are moving to a flatter, smaller, more upkeep-able home. This is the last time I'll see the house as it has been for decades — many of the same pictures and paintings and couches and rugs. And smells. And … feelings. The home just holds so many feelings.
Today I walked around with my camera and documented each room, each little vignette that I remember so well, each of my favorite spots to go as a child, and then as a teenager, and now as an adult, with my own children exploring the same grounds. I greeted each memory one last time. It's amazing to me how a house can be a living, breathing thing — it's inanimate, but it's alive in my memories and always will be.
It reminds me that my house is more than furniture, rugs, countertops, and paint colors — this is a real reminder for me that my home is a collection of feelings, emotions, and memories. I can only hope that one day my home evokes the same kinds of nostalgic and bittersweet sentiments in my kids and grandkids — what a wonderful testament this old place is to our families.
But it's time to move on; it's time for a new family to start a new life in the place we are so familiar with. It will become theirs to love and will house a whole new set of memories.
What about you? Do you have a childhood home to come back to? Have you ever said a tearful goodbye to a house?
MORE HOME NOSTALGIA ON APARTMENT THERAPY:
• Saying Goodbye To A Home
• Survey: Would You Move Back to Your Parent's House?
• Have Your Parents Moved?
(Image: Sarah Dobbins)