It’s a strange day. The day your childhood home is put up for sale. The home that you lived in for 18 years. The home that contained your childhood bedroom that you painted blue at 16. Where you hung your posters. Where you studied. Played. Hid away from the world. Began to develop your identity.
It’s been four years since I’ve lived in that home. Even when I return to my hometown, I live elsewhere. Still, that home is at the center of many memories. Even though the family that used to live there, my family, has not existed for many years, the house remained within my family. It was the last connective tissue from our old lives.
My parents have divorced; they each live with new partners. My sister and I have moved to new cities, unlikely to return to the Bay Area for many decades, if ever. But this place, this house somehow was still there for all of us. This place contained my furniture, my family’s furniture, old family relics. Now everything has been divvied up between the four of us. It is no longer part of a greater whole.
Now the furniture, like my family, has split into disparate parts. Solely connected through pictures and our memories. But no longer concrete. No longer furnishing one house. The house is bare, devoid of any of the objects or people that made it my home. My room has been repainted, it is now the off white of the rest of the house. The paper cranes that I put on my ceiling have been removed. My closet is empty. The ever overflowing hall closet has been cleared out. The garage, emptied.
I never said goodbye. I was denied that opportunity. A seemingly impulsive decision, and short notice announcement led to the expedient removal of everything in that house. This house, which was supposed to be the place I could return to for the rest of my life, which was meant to be my sister and my inheritance is now completely out of the family. Out of our control.
The last connection between my parents has been severed. The two spent countless hours going through the place, packaging up memories of our old life. The last prolonged period of time my parents would ever have to spend together. Finally closing out that chapter of each of their lives. My parents have been divorced for nearly 4 years, separated for longer. But they still had that house, the thousands of pictures inside, and their two daughters connecting them.
They will always have us, my sister and I. That’s out of their control. So this house was the last thing that connected them. That reminded them that we were, once upon a time, a family. My parents moved on with their lives. I moved 3,000 miles away. Yet, I had always believed this house would be there. I had always believed that the Japanese Maple in the garden would be an old friend I could return to.
Now it will pass to a new family. Be filled with new memories. I don’t regret this. I don’t regret that the house can be filled with joy again. I only wish I could have said goodbye. Walked through it one last time as my home, before it became just another house. I wanted to say goodbye to the memories. Goodbye to that life.
That chance is gone. The house’s fate left to the housing market of the Silicon Valley. Available for a new life. For a full life. In the present. Not a representation of my family’s broken past. May it be filled with new life. A happy family, as it once was.