Seven years, five months and 15 days later, it’s time to say goodbye.
When this blog post officially hits the internet, I will be in the process of moving out of my home. The feeling is bittersweet. Change is exciting, and the opportunity to make a fresh start means cutting ties to the past and looking forward. I’m doing this to ensure we’ll have a better future. My credit has taken a severe hit, but that’s temporary. We’ll be living in a smaller space with a single bathroom, but that too is temporary. In two years we can begin thinking about buying a house again, and that is worth every bit of sacrifice we’ll go through between now and then. I’ll soon be free of a stifling, upside-down mortgage and an overzealous (aren’t they all?) homeowner’s association. Best of all, Tara and I will be partners in the truest sense of the word. It’s not a case of her uprooting her life and combining it with my preexisting one. It’s a new start, and we’re doing it together.
But like I said, bittersweet. Which means the decision wasn’t an easy one to make, and I will miss certain things about my townhouse. It’s cozy and comfortable, for one. With a secluded, covered patio where I’ve spent many an afternoon and evening relaxing, listening to music, drinking adult beverages, playing cards, etc. I have great neighbors that I’ve grown especially close with over the past few months. Leaving isn’t easy, and once upon a time, I never thought I would.
It wasn’t love at first sight. The complex was a sprawling mass of buildings, and looked too apartment-y to me. I was used to white picket fences and manicured lawns. But the interior was nice, and it was an end unit. “I could live here,” I thought, and before long I found myself the proud owner of my very own townhouse. I bought it completely on my own, a very gratifying (and grownup) feeling.
The day I moved in, I was ecstatic. I had somehow survived the worst spring and summer of my life, one in which my marriage spiraled out of control before crashing and burning spectacularly. A promotion at work had turned into a nightmare. I found myself seeking escape in ways that were foolish. I blogged elsewhere then, and if there’s any question how badly I was suffering, words like these – written virtually as events unfolded – serve as a painful reminder.
We’ve had many talks over the past few months, but this was the first full-fledged fight, calm voices giving way to angry shouts. I laid it all out on the table, and she knocked the table over, every kind word out of my mouth met with slings and arrows from hers, all along her words – “I feel nothing” – running bitterly through my head, the hopelessness of the situation swelling by the second.
So on that last day of September in the year 2006, when I was handed over the keys to my new place, the relief I felt was indescribable. Those last few months together had been excruciating. I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. The moment I walked through the front door of #62, I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom.
I believed for a time that I would always live there.
And why not? I had plenty of space, for me and the kids (and at some future point, I figured, somebody else). I had all the amenities I wanted and didn’t have to worry about yard work. I painted the living room a color I liked, and began stockpiling lava lamps to create a look that appealed to me. I’d never even owned one when I was married. I got a cat (the ex was allergic). In short, I started to build a life for ME, rather than compromising my interests to death. I quickly settled in, and figured I’d never move again.
If these walls could talk, they’d tell tales of good times. Like my first houseguest, Chris – she’s still a good friend to this day. I cooked her dinner and she brought a jug of merlot. Drinking was still pretty new to me back then, and I had virtually no knowledge of wine. I ended up so drunk I could barely walk, but I hid it from Chris well, only collapsing on my bed once she had left. On another visit, we played an Adam & The Ants record late into the night. There was Heidi’s visit, where we played cards and I jumped up on the counter. Tara’s first visit. We shared our first kiss midway between the kitchen and living room. I stand in that spot still and feel the electricity. There were visitors unseen. For a long time I dealt with objects flying around the bathroom, doors opening on their own, lights coming on without anybody flipping a switch. One day Rusty told them to go away, and they did. True story.
There were holidays. Pumpkins on the mantle, harvest decor on the kitchen shelves. Christmas trees in the window. Easter eggs scattered through the house. Streamers on the 4th of July. Family gatherings on birthdays and other special occasions. Thanksgiving became mine and I hosted every year. There were snowfalls and thunderstorms and heat waves. A fire in the adjoining building. I wrote a book there. Planned a road trip there. Started a blog there. There were arguments there and passion there. In short, life happened there, and if you believe energy exists in places long after events have occurred, then #62 is positively brimming with it.
They say people come in and out of your lives for certain reasons, often when you need them most. I think the same is true of places. #62 was the perfect fit for me at that stage of my life, but I have grown – and in the process, outgrown it. It’s time to move on, and that is what I’m doing today.
Thanks for the memories.