Back to the old house

Despite the constant cynicism and Daria-like personality I project, I am quite an emotional person. Even when not under the influence of mood-altering substances I'm a crier. As documented earlier, I have cried at an episode of Pimp my Ride, and I cannot watch a full episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition without weeping into one of the sofa cushions. I have yet to make it through a full sentence without crying when talking about old people and their pets. That is my Achilles' heel, so if you want to hurt me, tell me a sad tale about a pensioner that has to put his or her pet to sleep and I'll be rendered inconsolable.

The past day has found me crying off and on about something that I'm desperately hoping some people will understand -- the sale of my family home. My Mom has been talking of selling her house and downsizing for a few years, but given her tendency for procrastination, I never thought it would happen. I received an email yesterday to say that she had accepted an offer and will move in the middle of next month. This is upsetting as is, but it is exacerbated by the fact that this Christmas will be the first one I have spent back home since moving to the UK three years ago and now it will be in an unfamiliar house, in surroundings that aren't a comfort to me as her house currently is.

I feel like I want to say goodbye to it. I lived from the age of 9 until I left at 22 (I was in college, not leeching off my Mom, for the record), so that is where so much of my life took place - climbing the trees during long, sweltering summer days spent locked outside by my mom in an effort to tear me away from the tv; the lawn I was forced to mow on our rickety riding mower, forever hoping that no cute guys from school would drive by and laugh at me bouncing up and down on this massive contraption over the slight hills in the front yard. It's strange to think I will never again sleep in the bedroom where I would sit on the floor as a teenager, phone in my lap, staring at the phone number of the latest boy that I LIKED liked and hanging up right after dialing the seventh digit.

There are bad memories too, though the fact that they took place in that house somehow tempers their negative emotional impact all these years later. The living room, where I was seated on the left side of the plush blue sofa, when my Mom told me that she and my Dad were separating. I distinctly remember seeing her distorted face as viewed from the bottom of the glass of orange juice I was drinking from as she gave me the news, with my first thoughts rushing to suspect infidelity. My mom's bedroom was the setting for the phone call telling us that my Great Aunt Betty, a woman who played a vital role in our lives as surrogate mother to my mom and surrogate grandmother to me after the death of my maternal grandmother, had passed away suddenly. I recall gazing out the window in disbelief as my Mom cried on my shoulder and I did my 12 year old best to comfort her.

The Dude tried to cheer me up with Manisms such as, "It's only a house." (Oh, THANKS. And so it is. Duh, silly me.) and "At least you have your memories, isn't that enough?" (Short answer: no). I'm sure I will get over it...I won't pine over this house when I'm 56 or anything, but it's difficult to deal with it as this is my place to go home to. Having moved 4000 miles away from "home", I am now acutely aware of that trite phrase "You can never go home again", because I have felt that in subsequent visits. However, I now feel even less that I can never go home again, because the place I will go to is not my home. Some may feel I am overemphasising this concept of "home", but for me it is my ultimate comfort. If my life here, for whatever reason, went horribly wrong I would find solace in the idea that I could go back "home" to get back on my feet. This reliance on this makes me worry that perhaps I'm holding on to something that left a long time ago. I'm an adult now, surely I shouldn't be so fixated on the past?

This is not the only property-related news in my life. On the same day a major feature in my previous life was passed on to another, a big decision was made in my current life as regards to property as well. The Dude and I decided, quite impulsively, to buy another flat in our building which we intend to let. Yes, IVF and property buying in one month is a bit overwhelming, but as we are the least spontaneous people ever, this feels good. If I do get pregnant via IVF this cycle (still not buying that), we might be bordering on the very skint for awhile, but we think it will be worth it down the road. Alternatively, if I don't get pregnant and we decide to give the finger to IF treatment once and for all, one day I'll be driving a very nice Jaguar and seducing a poor defenseless pool boy. Which is the better outcome?


April said...


Just wanted to say hon - I feel for you. Say goodbye to the house when you're back stateside.

You're in my thoughts.

Manuela said...

Of COURSE this is upsetting! Only a complete emotional fuckwit (or a man) would fail to be moved by this turn of events.

Oh... and by the way... I'm jealous... you already have all your drugs... I don't have mine yet! I don't even know WHEN I get them... when are you starting suppression??

(Oh... and um... when I said 'whines'I meant 'waxes poetic')

Panda said...

I spent huge chunks of my childhood at my grandmother's house. It was a huge old, ornate villa which I loved. there were both very good and very bad memories associated with the house, but on the whole it had a feeling of safety about it. When gran died ten years ago, my mother sold the house. I cried as it went under the hammer.

I still have dreams where I can get back inside the house to see what's been changed, and they are always very emotional dreams.

Its strange to have such an emotional connection to a pile of stones and bricks, but its there, nonetheless. I think that it hurts because it really is closing a chapter of your life forever.

mm said...

I still mourn the loss of the two houses I grew up in. Both have been sold, one upon my parents divorce. I also admit to having regular fantasies of buying one of these houses to get it back into the family. Never mind that I'd rather eat nails than move to my hometown. It's the house and memories in it that matters.

Nico said...

After my father died, my mom remarried a few years later and sold the house we grew up in. I still drive by every now and again to look at it. It makes me feel safer and more grounded somehow.

I'm voting for the Jaguar, pool boy AND the kid.

tania said...

I cried just reading about your house being sold (yes. i too am a crier. sappy commercials, the national anthem, those sorts of things...) so I don't think it's silly for you to be upset about it... I would be upset too. (Although probably more upset by the prospect of helping my parents clean all of the shit that has accumulated in 30 + years of living there...)

Husbands can say the dumbest things sometimes.

Jenn said...

I feel you. My brother and sister rent the house we grew up in from my mother. But even with them living there it isn't the same. My mom's new house feels more like home to me now. But she keeps talking of selling the one my siblings live in and that does make me sad.

MC said...

I'm a crier as well. especially animals and old people. I love going back home to my parents' house once a week, it feels very safe and comforting.

Vacant Uterus said...

I understand, Pru. After my Grandma died, I realized that the house I spent so much of my growing-up years in would no longer be available to me after my Grandfather follows her. It's owned by the church and will go to the next pastor after my grandfather either retires or passes on. I've spent so much of my time at that house that it feels like the loss of it will hurt almost as much as the loss of the people themselves.

cat said...

Totally understandable mourning the loss of your childhood home. That's a lot of memories and it's always sad to see the property you built them in go.

The pool boy, sports car and baybee might be nice.

Molly said...

My family has lived in the same house since before I was born, so I can't imagine them living anywhere else. It would be very, very tough for them to leave. Cry your eyes out. Tell The Dude that I SAID you could.

My vote: you and poolboy (somewhat exotically foreign looking, a la Carl in "Love Actually") in the front seat of the Jaguar, The Dude in back with the baby. Yaayy!

Ova Girl said...

Pru...very much feel for you. As a kid we lived in a variety of houses all over the place (Dad was in the airforce). The last house we ended up in, we actually owned and it was the longest I ever lived anywhere. So many memories, so many events of significance in that house, even though it was less than ten years. After my mother died, my dad sold up the house. I wavered between sadness and feeling that I had no right to be sad, I hadn't lived there for years.

It's a milestone. But the memories are always with you Pru, even if the bricks and mortar are gone.

Pamplemousse said...

It is funny but I do not have that attachment. Maybe because my financially-challenged fuckwits of parents could not get it together to ever a) buy a house or b) stay in a rented house long enough to get attached.

That could explain why I am Miss Financial Planner of the century hahaha!

Anyhoo, sorry that you are upset about this. Kick the Dude for me. You are allowed to get upset about ANYTHING! Oh, and you know I love you for the Smiths reference.

Alexa said...

Poor Darling. The Nearly just went through the same thing--his parents moved out of his childhood home a few weeks ago, and he was a wreck. Home is a very powerful notion to me as well, I just haven't found it yet.
Mmm. Poolboy.

thalia said...

I felt the same way when my parents separated and sold our family house. I was devastated. I was living 4000 miles away in the US, and I went home a couple of weeks before they moved out so that I could pack up my stuff and say goodbye. I did all sorts of sentimental things like visiting each room in the house and burying a necklace that my grandmother had given me (one that I would never wear again, but which had a charm that looked like her old dog on it), in the garden under the apple tree. I haven't managed to go back and visit that neighbourhood again.

Can you go by and see the house when you are home? It's not the same, I know, but maybe it would be good to say goodbye? It's hard to have to mourn this loss when there's so much other loss in your life at the moment. I'm sorry.

Catherine said...

Your story is not unlike mine--we are selling my family's home this month (November) and it has been in the family for 60 years. I have anguished about it all summer--see my blogsite: www.inthepantry.blogspot.com for more about this.

It is a mourning process and you should, if you can, visit the house once more. A friend told me to go in our old house and "bless" each room--to honor each memory in it and move on. I thought I would take some quiet time to do this in the next few weeks.

I truly think that houses are organic "beings" and we infuse them with our love and soul, our hearts and minds, our joys and our pains...

Your blog is a great place to work all of this out. You will always have your home in memory because as Thomas Wolfe said, "you can never go home again". You will now know what this truly means. A sad, aching longing that is hard to shake...

My thoughts are with you. I'll read more of your blog later--I found you by googling "mourning for a family house".