We sold our house in England this weekend. It’s a house I haven’t lived in for more than 10 years but I still feel sad. I am surprised by how sad I’ve felt this weekend, but when I settle myself down, take a breath and think about it, I begin to understand…
It was the first house my husband I bought together when we got married. We had dreams and plans for the house. We brought both of our children home from the hospital there. We had lots of friends and family around and turned the house into a home.
It’s where I was when I learned of the 9/11 attacks, home with a new born baby, feeling like the world was coming to an end as I tried to reach my family in US on the phone but all the international lines were down. It’s also where I learned that my grandfather in Michigan had died but I couldn’t attend his funeral. And it’s where we negotiated the contract that resulted in our family migrating to Australia eleven years ago.
The house was old. Built in 1895, I used to wonder about the other families who had lived there. Who was the first family to move in? What things happened to them while they lived there? I had never lived in a house that old and its history fascinated me. I wished each family who had lived there had left something in the loft for the next family to discover. My parents built the house that I grew up in so I know all of it’s stories. But I didn’t know all of this house’s stories, just the ones we created.
If only the walls could talk.
What would they say? What did they see? Did they see how unhappy I was so much of the time? They watched me spiral into post-natal depression after my first child was born and ante-natal depression when I got pregnant the second time. They watched me fight my demons. They watched as I felt that I didn’t fit in with the life I was living. They watched as I was homesick for my family in the US but I kept a brave face for everyone else because that’s what I felt I had to do.
I’ve moved house more than 20 times in my life. But for some reason, my English house captured my imagination.
It’s not like I loved the house. I didn’t. The bedrooms were too small, the stairs too steep and narrow, the bathroom was on the ground floor, it had no storage space; but it represented a large chunk of my adult life. And was the first big ‘grown-up’ purchase I’d ever made.
And now I live on the other side of the world. The house I live in at the moment is one of my favourites. It’s also old (for Australia) and has character. My children don’t like it because it isn’t new and modern and shiny with hard angles and it only has one bathroom. But I love it. It’s comfortable and lived in and cozy. It suits me and it nurtures me and my soul.
Selling the old house was necessary for me to move on to a new chapter of my life. And new chapters are exciting. But they can also be a little sad.