Of Love and Houses

The fact that my neighbors Second Family was selling their house and they would really, truly no longer be in it wasn’t actually real to me. I see that now.  My mom and dad still live in the same home I grew up in, a beautiful behemoth of a place whose backyard abuts the backyard of the home that I am referring to.

Last night, my Second Family’s house sold after months and months of careful updating and repairing, which followed the cleaning out of their home and it’s forty-plus years of lived-in-ness. The matriarch of the family, Ada, now lives with Jen, the oldest of two daughters, about 20 minutes away. The patriarch, John, died in 2015, leaving a gaping hole and setting this change into motion, ever so slowly but surely, as such loses often do.

I spoke this morning with Jen and she told me a little bit about the imposters people who would be moving into her childhood house, assuming all the appraisals and whatever other adulty paperwork went through.

I am very happy for her and Ada and Maureen (my crossed out imposters above is truly in jest). It has been a long, sad, stressful process for all of them.

Jen and I talked for a long while, and after we hung up, I got in my car to drive back to the office and wondered to myself if I would ever meet the new residents. The winners of a highly coveted jewel of a home.

In my mind, I imagined myself in a scenario, approaching them in the backyard that joins my parents’ backyard, and maybe ask them for their opinions about McDonald’s vs Burger King or exchange other non-fast food related pleasantries. In my mind, they invite me in (for a drink I guess? I don’t know, it’s imaginary, readers), and in my mind I freeze at the bottom of the stairs which lead to the back door entrance.

In real life, sitting in my car, the reality hits me. I burst into tears.  I cannot go into that house without my Second Family in it.

The memories that rise up in me are from before husbands and kids (I’m single with a dog, but my older brother is married, and Maureen and Jen are both married with two kids each now), when we were still all under the age of 15 or so. Jen the oldest, followed by my brother, then Maureen, then me, bringing up the rear chronologically.

The memories come and I can hear the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album coming from the speakers of the stereo system which is no longer in the living room.  I can smell food; from elaborate meals enjoyed during our shared holiday celebrations, to Ada’s middle eastern meals that she learned to cook during her years in Tehran, to chocolate chip cookies, which, legend has it, I could smell from a mile away (and would always miraculously show up just as they came out of the oven). I can hear the laughing from the hours of board game playing. I can see the upright bass Maureen played laying carefully in a corner of a room. On the dining room table, there’s a board game my dad hand-drew based on a brief drama of Maureen disappearing one time when we were kids (in the end I think she was just at a friend’s house). Duran Duran posters on the walls in the girls’ rooms, beautiful afghan rugs everywhere. A pulley system, via a thin rope, connecting one of their windows to one of ours so we could send notes to each other high above our lawns (the contents of those notes are long forgotten but I’m sure were of extreme importance).

The memories come and so do the tears and I just let it happen. I don’t mind at all. I don’t like to be sad, but I have finally learned that sadness often comes after something really great. And when this sad passes, the memory of the great that caused it will stay.



One Reply to “Of Love and Houses”

  1. What a wonderful tribute to well-lived decades of love and friendship between two families that became one.

    I, too, feel the sadness of having to deal with the loss of “our second home”. It stares at me every single day.. but you are so right that “the memory of the great” is what remains. How incredibly lucky we are to have them in our lives…the love we share will always be there.

    We have new memories to look forward to, never as intense or “important” as the ones from childhood, but that is the way of life…a series of passages, always changing, sometimes not wanted, sometimes wonderful, sometimes sad. Change is never easy but it is the stuff of life.


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