Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Leaving Home

At age 18 you leave home for the first time, bound for university, full of youthful optimism about the future and ready to conquer the world. Leaving is bittersweet. Of course you’ll miss your family, but adventure awaits! You are excited to spread your wings, to experience life on your own. You don’t realize at the time that you are leaving for good-- that this house will never really be your home again. Sure, you’ll be home for breaks here and there. The house will be the same except for some new furniture or maybe new curtains. Mom and Dad will be in their usual chairs. It will feel and smell like home every time you return and a part of you will always feel as though you never left.

Four years fly by and suddenly you are searching for your first real job. Renting your first real apartment. Life is happening. You get married . Or you don’t. Have children. Or not. You go to grad school, change careers, travel the world. You live your life thousands of miles from the place you grew up. And time passes so quickly.

Inevitably, you find yourself back in your childhood home. The same one you left decades (my God, how can it be that long?) ago. You’re older now. Youthful optimism has been replaced by healthy cynicism or (worse) resignation. You sort through the remnants of your childhood. Long forgotten toys, homework assignments, beloved books, music in formats ranging from LP to 8-track to cassette. Along with the archeological evidence of your childhood, you find memories in every item pulled from the cupboard—the bowl mom used to mix cookie dough, dad’s handkerchiefs. (He always managed to have a clean one when you were little to wipe your nose or clean your hands.) Every mundane item, from soup ladel to flashlight, is inspected and either claimed as useful or sentimental or relegated to the Goodwill box. The house now stands empty. Lonely. Memories of all those dinners, birthdays, Christmas Eves dance like ghosts in your mind’s eye. There was always so much laughter. But now there’s only stillness. Mom and Dad are both gone. And the house, once so full of life, is silent as you leave home for the last time.


Dee Murray said...


Helen said...

I wrote this the day I left the house for the last time nearly a year ago, but never posted it. I'm going back to my hometown soon. Not to the house. It's been sold. I can't even imagine what it will be like.

Christie D. said...

This was beautiful..