A few months ago, my parents, who are both now retired, announced that they'd decided to sell their house in New Jersey and relocated to the Lancaster area in Pennsylvania. Architecturally speaking, there isn't anything overly special about the house. There isn't anything historically significant about it either. It's just an average spilt level home with a two-and-a-half garage (more about that in a minute). But, I've found myself torn with emotion through the past couple months as I've watched things proceed with the sale.
You see, most of my childhood, and even a few years of adulthood, was spent in that house. Needless to say, there are a lot of memories wrapped up within those walls. Most of the memories are good, but, as expected, there are a few bad ones in there as well. Over the years,the house has evolved as the needs have arisen. Although the floor plan has remained relatively the same, the colors and textures and fixtures have changed again and again.
This past weekend, I had the chance to walk through the house one more time before my parents move out. Each room was rich with memories, and abundantly overflowing with emotion. Oh, if those walls could talk, the stories that they would tell. There was the built-in bookcase at the end of the upstairs hall, built to hide the shoulder-sized hole that I once made while sliding on the hardwood floor in my socks. Then there was the carpet in my old bedroom. I'd picked it out when I was a teenager (despite my parents reservations), and it turned out to be so long lasting that it is still there, and looks as good as it did the day it was installed. How could I forget the one-and-a-half car garage that my father and I built onto the house in seven days almost twenty years ago. It took just one week of vacation to stand up the walls, roof, sidings, windows, and doors.
I shot pool with my friends (we had a pool table), kissed girls, watched movies, played Monopoly, did homework, made the world's worst batch of cornbread, and enjoyed the love of two fantastic parents in that house. I played baseball and football in the yard, mowed the grass, and rode my bicycle up and down the driveway more times than I can remember. Almost half of my life was spent in that house.
I think what makes this hardest for me is that I consider that house to almost be another member of family. There were four of us, my parents, my sister, and myself. But, in many ways, that house was the fifth member of our family. It was there for every dinner, every party, and every tragedy. It was there for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and even birthdays. It's like the big brother that I never had. It provided comfort and protection during storms, and was filled with love. Seeing it go is like saying farewell to a dear friend.
I told myself that I wouldn't get emotional, but, if you'll excuse me, I need to go wipe away a tear as I say goodbye to my "home sweet home".