I wake up extra early today. The sun is just peering above the treeline and the air is already thick and wet with Indiana August. I stretch and pause at the edge of my bed just as I have 2,098 other times in this home. But this time it is different. This time it is the last.
Today we move. We leave behind these four walls that are all my short-term memory allows me to recall, and all that my children know. We will venture on to a new house. And for now that is all it is. A house, made of four walls. It stands big and cold and intimidating. It is a stranger to me. We leave behind old friends and our "old house." It is a dear, comfortable friend and I know every creek in its floor and scratch in its wall. And I love it all the more for its imperfections. Each little nick or crack tells a story. The story of us. We made this house a home.
I didn't try to hide the fact that I had compromised a few things for this house. All I wanted when we moved here was a big private backyard. Well, we back up to 14 other houses. I was always the first to point out its problems. "The dining room is tiny! The floor plan is too open! I can't fit my big butt in the laundry room!" But as the years flew by, my feelings changed. The ivy we planted to cover the hideous white rocks out front now tries to creep over the sidewalks. I love how the moonlight pours in through windows on a cloudless night. The last few times we have arrived home from vacation, I have collapsed on the family room floor and shouted, "It's good to be home!" The stale smell that used to bother me now filled me up like a hug.
We moved in on an icy winter day, just before Christmas. Six years, three babies, three miscarriages, nine birthday parties, four Easters, five Thanksgivings, a billion diapers, a trillion smiles, and lots of tears later, there are so many memories in this home they are seeping out the windows. The very first morning in this house, I found out I was expecting my first baby. My water broke right here on this bathroom floor. I have painted these walls. Reindeer have danced on this roof. We brought our babies home here. We have caught fireflies in this yard. I have sat with my children on this stoop, wrapped in blankets on a chilly October morning, awaiting the trash truck, our breath hanging in the cool air. We met our first "neighbor friends" and marveled at how quickly strangers can become family. We have been up all night in these rooms. We have hidden from tornadoes in this basement. We have lit fireworks in the street. We have danced in the rain with neighbors from those 14 houses undoubtedly thinking we were nuts.
I admit it. I love this house. It's my home! And though we are sad to leave, it is time to move on to a new shell. One that we won't be busting at the seams in. One that has a big, private backyard for my barefoot children. One that has a forest for them to explore as I did as a child. Our new shell will have its own stories to tell. This stranger house intimidates me, but I know in a few short weeks, it will feel like home. I will gaze upon its moonbeams in the night and collapse on its soft carpet.
And so, our final minutes with this home remain. This goodbye is so much harder than I ever imagined. Will my children even remember this house? Will they always just hear wild stories about "The Old House"? When the last box has been packed and we have closed the door for the last time, what will remain? A somber stillness? A very quiet four walls? An empty shell? Yes. But, not for long. Soon, a new family will move in. Little footsteps will fill the halls again. Laughter will bounce off these walls. It will no longer be a dark and still house. It will breathe again with life. It will be their home. And whoever they are, I pray that they too fill the rooms with loving memories that seep out the windows.