Sunday, December 3, 2017

Empty rooms

Our former house, waiting for its new owners

You would think moving would be an exciting thing. A wonderful thing! A nothing-but-positive thing.

It feels like it should feel that way.

In my case, however, it was stressful and exhausting, confusing and destabilizing, anxiety-provoking and overwhelming.

Searching for a new place and leaving the old show you all kinds of things about yourself that you did not know, which is interesting, but also unsettling.

It shines a spotlight on how confused you may be about what you thought you wanted...and the possible life/lives you imagine you want to live...and how those imagined lives may or may not align with those of your partner...and what that may say about the compromises you are or are not willing to make.

It prompts questions about how much you can separate who you are from where you are.

Who am I when I am in this place, and not in that place? Will changing the status quo upend the life we have built, or enhance it (or both)?

Nobody talks about how selling your home feels like selling a piece of yourself, but it did. It felt like the breakup of a relationship; the painful separation and unwrapping of all the tendrils you have coiled around each other for mutual support.

Because one's home is an extension of oneself—do you feel that, too?

(At one time I had an unpleasant neighbor who, out of spite, cut off all the branches of my vine where it grew over the top of our border fence. When I later found it on the collapsed on the ground, deprived of its glorious tendrils, I felt as if I'd had all the air knocked out of me. Will you think me strange for saying how violent that felt? An ugly attack on a harmless, flourishing green thing that I tended and loved? Whatever we love is part of us.)

I just wanted to say that it is difficult to dismantle your life, to systematically erase yourself from a place where you've lived and dreamed for many years. Selling your home requires you to do so.

Selling was our choice, but I didn't expect letting go to be as emotional as it was. (One of the things I learned about myself, along with how much stuff I own, even though I never thought of myself as someone who owns many things. News flash: I DO.)

Walking through those small, loved, empty rooms for the last time, I thanked them for sheltering us, nurturing us, for being my sanctuary from a hard world and people who think nothing of destroying what is precious.

I told them that soon, good new people would move in, who want to garden, too. They have two cats too, and a dog; and they too love the way the light falls through those windows, onto our secret treasure of oak floors that lay hidden for all the years we lived there.

Sometimes I feel I'm married to sorrow. Always quicker to feel the keen edge of grief or poignancy or loss than the balm of joy, contentment, a sense of good possibilities.

But a comfort to me is that it feels meet and right that we refurbished and polished our little house like a gem for the people who own it now. Like we gave our home the parting gifts it deserved, leaving it in so much better shape than it was when we bought it all those years ago.

I hope that its new inhabitants love our home as much as I did, and that they do not mind so much living across the street from a parking lot. From the bedroom windows you can see the sun rising in the morning and the moon rising at night; and I left the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling in the shape of the constellations of the northern sky.


  1. Such beautiful rooms, enchanting in their emptiness. I can't say I completely know how you feel, as I've been a gypsy all my life, but you described it beautifully. I hope you find much joy in your new home.

  2. such beautiful floors! and all of that gorgeous light coming in through the windows.....i'm sure your house's new people will treasure it as much as you did.

    i know what you mean about the attachment to place, of a home being an extension of oneself...all of the best places are like that, i think. xo

    1. Mel, I love reading about your home and garden, we may be fellow hobbit homebodies. :)

  3. How could they help but love it.... It is lovely.

    Wishing you all the best, in your new home.


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