A client and a friend shared this with me, I wondered if you have ever felt that way before when you sold a home you had been developing many memories?
I have maybe a half-dozen routes I use to walk my dog. On every one of them, I manage to go past our old house in South Auburn. We never gave it a proper send off.
We lived in that house for 15 years, me and Kim, before we sold it last summer. We raised our children there. A funny thing happens when you decide to sell your home. You tear it down in your mind. You must convince yourself it is no longer worthy. Otherwise, you would never leave.
For us, the backyard was too small and unusable. It was too hot on the deck in the summer. No pool and nowhere to put one. The rooms were too close together. No privacy for our kids when they had their boyfriends and girlfriends over. The carpet was bad. Neighbors too close. Dogs barked. Some good reasons, some not so good. By the end of the process, I hated that house and wanted to be over and done with it.
Now I walk by because I like to look at it. I love the giant Oak tree that lords over everything on the lot, especially the home. That Oak was a merciless master. It expelled lesser trees from the yard. It never dropped a limb on our home.
When I walk by now, I seek impressions that shake loose memories. Me and Martin throwing the football in the front yard, him diving into a pile of leaves, me leading him just enough. Kennedy writing up a script and dressing up her friends and her little brother for a very serious skit in our living room that she would film with a flip camera. We listened to great music in that Great Room. Filled it with our friends and their laughter. Never mind the time the Christmas tree toppled when Kim was out of town for work and the kids dashed to their rooms crying in horror. Christmas was surely ruined. Our ceremonial pickle ornament was shattered. We received three more pickles in the mail when our friends caught wind of the disaster. Christmas survived.
Our home was part of a neighborhood. Friends came, and friends went, and new ones replaced them. We had divorces, played sports together and school plays and fundraisers and high school graduations on that street. Every Halloween, kids in get-ups swarmed the street. Kennedy had her first real party there. Cops and all. And Martin found his first real tribe across the street with some older boys who took him into their group, and with it, he took his first steps into manhood. And we slept better, knowing he was safe across the street.
Kim and I grew up there too. We had some terrible fights. The kind you sometimes don’t come back from. Unless you do. And then after, you are stronger. The day after my Mom passed away and I’d returned from Truckee after making arrangements with my Dad and brother, we put the kids to bed and I sat on our couch and I howled. A river of grief poured out of me, and every regret I ever had as a son blew a hole through my heart and my soul tore out of me. I could not see and I was scared and alone. Motherless. And Kim sat silently with me and she put her arms around me and held me. And I wasn’t there, and she held on, and slowly I came back into the room. Onto our couch. Kim had brought me home. To Our home.
And I look now at that inadequate backyard and I remember one grand and glorious October night when it was transformed into a German Beer Hall. Oompa music, strings of lights, lederhosen, bratwursts and kraut, kegs of beer and Kim dressed as a German barmaid. And so many friends. Our neighbors from across the street (both of whom later passed away while we lived there) came and drank beer on our deck. The one and only time they visited. Kids gathered in the front unattended, that night. A throwback party to another era. One boy broke an arm that night when he fell out of the tree. But everyone survived. For one night only, it was The Full Monty.
When we bought the house back in 2005, and the Realtors were haggling, the previous owner pulled me aside. He said, “No matter what they tell you, I want you to know this is a good house.” He was right.