I went to meet the new owner of my house after all the conditions had been removed and before she got possession. Some of it was that she was moving out of a very tiny condo and was interested in keeping a few pieces of my furniture, some of it is that I feel like someone should walk you through a 110-year-old house.
Someone who loved the house should show you the very odd location of the shut-off valve to the garden faucet and they should tell you that no matter what you try and who you talk to, the dining room window will sound exactly like a dying cat when you open it. They should tell you that the house is a happy house and it creaks companionably with you as you go up the stairs. There is a section of trim missing in the butler’s pantry, but I spent 10 years haunting lumber stores to match it and the trim is in the basement, in the rafters, waiting to be installed.
The entire week before I met the new owner, I practiced – I practiced saying “your house” instead of “my house”. I practiced repeating all the things I loved about the house, covering off the places where my house was tied to my memories, my heart, and my soul, and doing it without sobbing. I made it through.
Then the movers came and all of my stuff was at the gentleman callers. A few days before possession was due to legally happen, I went back, and spent a few hours weeding and pruning the garden. Then I walked through the empty house. I started upstairs and I just stood in each room and remembered. The big things, the silly things. All the little things that you would never know about because they are so quick and so little they never make it out of your thoughts. I was so many different women in that house. And all of those women needed to exist so I could be the woman I am right now.
Finally, I stood at my front entrance and, with my hands on the newel post, I said thank you to my old house. It was home and I built all the women I am there.
And then I drove away.