It’s unreal to me.
I look around this house, seeing everything in its place…and a few things not in their places. Objects clearly illustrating people live here, have used those items in the recent past. A stapler askew on the desk. The chairs half pushed back into the table. Dishes drying in the sink. To try and envision this house any other way is difficult. To view it empty, packed up, is unreal.
But, it’s going to happen. In three short weeks, packers will descend upon my home and un-home it. The memories from my childhood of houses stripped of their personality will come flooding back as I hear the familiar sounds of tape being ripped off rolls and the smell of cardboard and paint fills my little house. They will strip the identity from it. Yet, memories will still pour forth from the walls; memories only I can see.
Like driving up to his home for the first time. I remember thinking it was so small and quaint. Inviting. I walked in, still with that new nervousness when around him. I complimented him on how well appointed his home was. “Thanks. My mom helped me.” Was his innocent and sweet response. Weeks later, he gave me my first kiss in this living room. We planned our wedding here, during evenings spent over binders, books, and brochures. He carried me over the threshold of this home the night of our Wedding, and we never looked back. We’ve brought two children home here, suffered a great loss, and survived a deployment. In this house. There are sweet little memories, like watching our daughters learn to crawl or running around the backyard on summer evenings, decorating our Christmas Tree. And funny anecdotes, like the time I spent the night here because I was locked out of my parents’ house while they were out of town. It was our third date. I slept in the guest room, with the door locked…just in case.
Aspects of this home that seem standard to some, hold great memories for us. The fireplace. Our favorite thing has been a roaring fire in the winter, curled up on the couch just relaxing. The first fire I built while he was deployed was both a great victory and a stinging reminder of his absence. The room in the back of the house, with the chair rail, it started off as a weight room for a bachelor; it was transformed into a quiet sanctuary for our honeymoon baby. Dancing in the living room to music with my girls, cooking meals for my little family in the kitchen, walking around the house wondering if it was “time” while counting contractions. It’s all here. The memories. The life. And I must leave it all behind.
I have lived this way my whole life. I know nothing else. That is a great comfort at times. I consider myself greatly experienced when it comes to military life, especially after being “in it” for 28 years. Despite that, the pain is not lessened; the sense of loss no less keen in these situations. Packing up. Moving on. Again. And again. Leaving houses that have become homes and then painfully became houses again. Good-byes to friends you’ve made, especially those you’ve laughed and cried with. Turning from family and walking away. Leaving behind parents, sisters. It hurts.
Yes, a great chapter is before us. Full of exciting new adventures. Yes, we will make a new home, make new friends. Have babies in different homes. There is much good awaiting us, too.
But those adventures do not replace the old ones. The new friends will not take the place of those we leave behind. No house will ever come close to the home that this place has been.
My tiny home. My little living room that I can walk across in a few short steps. The one that has been covered with baby toys, walkers, play pens. That precious room that has housed my sleeping newborns. The kitchen that has been danced in, cooked in. My home, that has been slept in, celebrated in, laughed in, cried in. Lived in.
In a few short weeks, I will watch them pack up my little home. I will clean it one last time, paint it one last time. I will look around one last time. Walk the rooms. Stop. Remember one last time. Then, I will walk out. Shut the door. One last time. And move on. To the next adventure.