Friday, December 28, 2012

My childhood home

One of the fantastic characteristics of my friendship with Poodle is that it withstands neglect.  From time to time, one or both of us will get caught up in our careers or projects or fandoms or the business of everyday life, and fail to do the normal everyday friend stuff that sustains a friendship.

But the friendship is still always there.  If, after a period of neglect, one of us needs a ride or tech support or fashion advice or non-English proofreading or to be wingmanned to Eddie Izzard, the other's response is always "Of course! Let's make that happen!  And how have you been, anyway?"  Then we address the issue at hand and catch up on everything else without any resentment or animosity about the period of neglect.

I have a similar relationship with the house where I grew up.   I don't go there often, but, when I do, it's always right there for me.  My room is still my room.  Everything is right where I can find it.  It's a constant that has been present for literally my entire life, and I've always been able to rely on it, even when I don't have any immediate need for it.

My parents are planning to sell their house at some point in the next year, and it breaks my heart.  This place that has always been there for me will no longer be there for me.  The room that has always been mine will no longer be mine. They bought this house for me, in a way.  They were living in a very small house and were pregnant with me, so they bought a bigger one to raise kids in.  We were the first ones to live there.  It hasn't just always been ours, it's only ever been ours. My room has only ever been my mine.  It's been a place of safety and refuge forever, and soon it won't be.


At this point, you're probably thinking "So why not make an offer when it goes up for sale?" The irony is, objectively speaking, I don't even like it.  It's a house.  It has a basement and an attic and a roof and a yard.  There's probably a spider somewhere in it right this minute.  It's inconveniently located.  Basically, I don't want it for the exact same reasons my parents don't, so I can't even blame them.

I stayed over there over xmas, and I found myself getting irritated by it.  You have to time having a shower around laundry and dishes and other showers, and the hot water is easily depleted.  My bed there has no redeeming qualities.  The wind rattles the windows. The air blowing out of the furnace vents has a magical ability to blow directly into my mouth when I'm trying to sleep.  From the creaks of the floorboards, you can tell exactly where everyone else in the house is and what they're doing.

When I returned to Toronto, a sense of contentment and belonging came over me as I walked home from the subway, through my own neighbourhood, and turned onto my own street.  My face lit up as I walked into my own apartment, as it hasn't done for my childhood home since before I moved out for the first time.

And yet, I still mourn for the loss of my childhood home.  My eyes still well up with tears as I write this. In an attempt to comfort myself, I considered the possibility that I might not miss it when it's gone.  But that only breaks my heart more.


laura k said...

I was also very, very sad when my parents sold the house I grew up in, the only place I had lived until I was 17 years old.

It was a small, ugly house in a place I couldn't wait to leave and would never dream of living again, but I absolutely grieved when it left my life.

I get it.

It's one of those big, sad steps of growing up, I think.

laura k said...

Heh, I realized I relate to your situation even more than I first thought. When my parents sold their suburban home, I was already living in NYC (in Brooklyn), and had that same feeling of belongingness and contentment that you describe.

CQ said...

It was years ago when my suburban parents made their housing move. Well before now, that neighbourhood had changed. It was changing then.
Nowadays my folks are in another nice-to-live, and less urban, setting.
I only wish that I had the old house pictures of actually 'back in the day'.
After an absent of some years, I began making my original homestead pilgramage once every few years.

impudent strumpet said...

The weird thing is my one grandmother still lives in her house, and my other grandmother lived in her house up to last year when she went into a retirement home. So my parents didn't even have to deal with this at my age. For some reason they aren't attached to their childhood homes, and I don't know if that's because they got to "keep" them for longer, or just a difference in personalities.

laura k said...

But your parents never had their attachment tested. (Or did they? Since one grandmother is in a retirement home, maybe one parent did.)

I didn't think I would be sad about my parents selling the house. As a teenager, I couldn't wait to leave it, and I left as soon as I possibly could. And when they did sell it, my mother was already living elsewhere on her own. So I wasn't even visiting that house anymore.

My sadness took me by surprise. But it was intense, felt like a huge loss.

impudent strumpet said...

My father did not only lose his childhood home, but he had to deal with all the stuff about selling it himself. So either he didn't have feelings, he's hiding his feelings, or the amount of work that had to be done distracted from the feelings. In any case, they seem rather baffled by my attachment. (You create a safe environment for your kids and then they feel safe there. Who'da thunk it?)