It’s hard to know how to feel when your parents inform you they are moving halfway across the country. Over egg rolls and curry at our favorite Thai place, mine told me just that. My mom received an incredible job offer, and they are headed back to her hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona in a little less than a month. In a matter of weeks, I will say goodbye to my childhood house, my family being a short drive away, my pets, and a place to call home. These next few weeks will bring a plethora of lasts (our last time watching a family movie in the living room, our last time enjoying pints at our townie bar, our last time hiking on our favorite trails), and this past weekend marked the first of those finalities. In a span of forty eight hours, I said goodbye to my childhood home.
I think of the most difficult things about the weekend was that there was zero time to process anything. We rented a dumpster for two days only and my dad needed to repaint my bedroom and bathroom, so basically everything that was non essential had to go. You would be surprised how much useless crap can accumulate over sixteen years. I discovered old handwritten letters from middle and high school, professing my borderline obsession with marching band and tidbits about my friend group drama. I found endless half filled notebooks and journals that boasted bad poetry and song lyrics. I tore posters of Flight of the Conchords, The Clash, and The Beatles off of my walls, and let my mom choose what pieces of my old artwork she deemed worthy of saving.
I go to school in Eau Claire, Wisconsin which is only about an hour drive from Hudson, making it really convenient if I need to get home for quality time with the family, an unexpected crisis, or even just to do laundry and chill with my cat. I usually go home once or twice a month, but the closeness has been even more convenient this year since I have a friend with serious health problems who I try to visit as often as I can. I think the nearness of my school helped strengthen my relationship with my parents. I wasn’t home much in high school since I was extremely involved and spent a lot of time with friends, and being close but not too close for college gave me the choice of coming home because I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to. There’s a sort of comfort in knowing my parents are near without us being under the strains that come with living in the same house, and it will be interesting to see how the extra few thousand miles of distance will affect that.
The most difficult items to part with were not baby blankets or old clothes or even stacks of family photos. Instead, I struggled the most with my books. From my childhood series like Harry Potter or The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants to adulthood favorites like A Man Called Ove and The Color Purple, these bound volumes are my friends when I feel like I have none and my worlds in which to escape when reality becomes too much to bear. I searched for the ones I could bear to give away and the ones I couldn’t leave behind, no matter how heavy or space-consuming they were. It’s unbelievable what a household of book lovers will produce, and my mom and I took periodic breaks talking about the significance of our shared passion.
So many conflicting emotions came up throughout the weekend and I still don’t know how to address them. I’m mourning the loss of the one true home I’ve had in my life while also feeling incredibly excited and happy for my parents’ big move. I’m feeling nostalgic for all of the memories made in that house, especially the ones created with friends with whom I still stay in contact. My high school pals and I used to spend lazy evenings scribbling poetry and Arcade Fire lyrics all over my walls, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a tinge of sadness when my dad painted over our musings. My pets are frantic and confused, which is further magnifying how hard it will be without them around, especially my favorite earthly being, my chubby barn cat, Jango. There’s an emptiness now, exemplifying how true it is that a home without evidence of memories and togetherness is really just a house.
These next few months will be difficult as a navigate this new sense of added independence and displacement. I have always been a bit of a lone wolf, but there are some things where I just need a little help from the ones who know best. When I have a crisis with my car (as I so often do), my dad won’t be able to drop everything and help me out. If I need some guidance on financial decisions, my mom won’t be there to write a pro and cons list with me. I am hoping these little steps of adulthood will manifest in a positive and smooth way, and show me that I will be just fine on my own. Quantity of time will have to transition to quality time, whether that takes place in person or over the telephone, which I can only hope will further solidify my relationships with my parents. Sometimes a little distance helps you discover new things about yourself and the people you love, and I feel prepared to see where this new journey will take me.