Home is where the heart is
[Dress and boots: both Zara, circa 2011 // Jacket: La Redoute, 2012 // Giant snow heart: c/o Terry]
So, our house is probably going on the market soon. I’m not sure quite how soon, but … soon. Too soon for my liking, because folks? I am FREAKING THE HELL OUT right now. Like, lying awake at night worrying, and waking up thinking, “OMG, WHAT ARE WE DOING?” – that kind of freaking out. It’s no fun at all, let me tell you.
Oh, don’t get me wrong: I want to move. I’ve wanted to move for years now. I’ve said it so many times it really doesn’t need to be repeated, but I’m going to do it anyway: this house is small. And cramped. And just generally uncomfortable, in lots of different ways, really. When we bought it, we saw it very much as a “starter home” – we assumed it would be a decent first step on the property ladder, and that we’d only live in it for a couple of years before moving on. Onwards and upwards.
We didn’t anticipate that Terry would need a kidney transplant, of course. Or that we’d both end up leaving our well-paid jobs and starting our own business because of it. But that was what happened: Terry’s diagnosis came almost exactly a year after we bought the place, and after that, moving home was the last thing we wanted to think about.
Now we’re not just thinking about it: we’re on the brink of actually DOING IT, and as I said I want to move. I’m excited about the big life change we possibly have ahead of us. I’m downright delirious at the prospect of having some much-needed space. I’m looking forward to having our friends over, and not feeling like I have to constantly apologise for the house, or have them all spend the evening rotating in and out of different rooms because if we all tried to sit in the living room we’d probably set a new world record. I’m ready for this. It’s time.
You knew there had to be a “but”, didn’t you?
I’m a ridiculously sentimental type of person. I’ve mentioned this before, but when I was a child, my mum had a hard time getting me to throw out old toothbrushes and things like that, because I felt that they’d become a part of the “family” and I just couldn’t bear the thought of them, all lonely and forlorn, sitting in the bottom of a landfill site somewhere. It broke my heart.
These days I’m not quite that bad. In fact, when it comes to clearing out junk, I can be downright ruthless when I have to be: I’m more of a neat-freak than a hoarder, and I’d rather have the place organised than be afraid to open cupboard doors for fear of being suffocated by an avalanche of old toothbrushes and God knows what else.
But I cannot STAND to leave places. I just can’t. I am the kind of person who cries when she checks out of hotels. My family know not to speak to me for the first ten minutes after we drive away from any of the holiday homes we stay in, because I’ll be sitting there sobbing. (And also because I will snap their heads off if they ask why. Sorry, folks.) I just can’t get over the fact that I’ve lived somewhere, been happy, created memories there… and that I will never, ever see that place again. It destroys me.
That’s why my phone is full of photos like this:
It’s the step up (NO WAY!) into the bathroom of the hotel room I stayed in in San Francisco. I would (naturally) trip over that step several times a day, and then one day, right before we left, it occurred to me that I would never, ever lay eyes on that step again. Not ever. Suddenly it became tremendously important that I document it, so that I could, you know, remember it forever. ( Also on my phone: a random selection of hotel room toilets, curtains, and other assorted items that are of no importance whatsoever, but which I just could not BEAR to leave behind.)
Then, last week I was cleaning the kitchen. I opened up one of the cabinet doors to start wiping it down, and all of sudden I realised that one day someone else would be doing this. (Or at least, I hope so. I mean, I don’t want to sell my house to people who never clean…) In fact, one day someone else will live here. They will cook in my kitchen, and sleep in the room I spent all of those nights lying awake worrying in. They will walk on the floors Terry almost broke his back laying, and they will warm their towels on that radiator which had a brief, but important role, on this very blog. They will live here, and I will not: not ever again.
How will I stand it? How will I cope with the leaving, and the letting-go that’s about to be required of me? How will I walk out of that familiar front door knowing that I will never, ever be coming back to this house that’s so full of memories, and which has been the setting for such a large, important part of my life? This is the first house I ever owned. It’s the house I lived in when I got married, and it’s the house we came home to that dreadful day when Terry was first diagnosed with kidney failure. This is the house whose floors I paced during all those operations, and hospital stays, and through a hundred sleepless nights. It’s the house we brought Rubin home to, as a puppy, and it’s the only house he’s ever known. It’s the house I have spent literally YEARS dreaming of leaving… but now that I (probably) am, the very thought of it is absolutely breaking my heart.
So how will I stand it? I honestly don’t know. I keep waking up in the night and thinking, “Nope, I can’t do it. I just can’t.” But of course, I can, and I will. “We can’t stay here forever,” Terry said, when I burdened him with all of this emotion earlier this week, and I know he’s right. It’s time to move on, and all I can do now is to try to be grateful for this little house of ours, and to enjoy the last few months (or however long it ends up being) I spend in it. I will take lots of photos of random windows and wonky tiles, and that weird mark on the bedroom wall that we never quite figured out. Or bothered to remove. I will try to make myself be OK with the leaving, and the never-coming-back.
I just don’t know how, yet.