More than 4 Walls

Good-bye.

You are just a house, not a home anymore, so this should be easier–but good-byes aren’t ever easy; especially the good-byes that are unexpected, unplanned. Room by room there are memories here. Memories I can take with me, I know, but most of these memories are tied up here, in these rooms, and I am going to try and say good-bye to them as I say good-bye to you.

I remember walking in before you were mine. The space—oh the space—you were open and inviting. I must have walked thru 10 times before you become ours. Dreaming, imagining, planning each spot. You weren’t perfect…in fact you were very rough around the edges but that worked to our advantage. You were like the runt of the liter or Charlie Brown tree on the Christmas tree lot…not everyone loved you. But we did. So you become ours.

We moved in a weekend. Lock-stock and barrel. Me, him and pick-up truck. It was the weekend before school started and I was determined to have us in and settled before the first day of school. Big task, big undertaking, but we did it. We’d pack a box, load the truck and unpack the box immediately. Took us all night but we did it. The bookcase almost killed me but I won. It was the first BIG task we took on together.

It wasn’t long before we discovered just how rough you really were. One duct-tape bug removal from the den wall and we knew that your walls had been dusted with paint, not really painted properly. Our decoration scheme became “cover the holes”. There isn’t a GOOD HOUSEKEEPING article to help with that particular scheme so we did the best we could. No window was quite square but luckily I have a talented dad who made our shutters and blinds fit into spaces that weren’t quite even. There a dozen or so little tiny things that weren’t quite ideal but we thought we had time to make them right so it didn’t bother us. We painted and hung and settled in our imperfect little place. It wasn’t long before you started looking like a home—our home.

Your walls are adorned with opps paint. Every project was an adventure considering I bought anything remotely close to a color I like—regardless of the type of paint it was. The bonus room is cigar brown concrete paint, the hallway upstairs was forest green suede paint until I wised up and found some normal paint I liked better. We aren’t very good painters so your ceilings are either dabbled with paint or missing chunks of paint so the sheetrock is exposed. We kept meaning to put up crown molding but it never quite got done. Guess we don’t have to worry about that now.

The Big Boys room has turf on the wall and blue paint on the ceiling. It was cool. He wanted a hanging bed so we built him one. It’s his boy cave and he loved it.

The middle child’s room is pure her-pretty but disastrous all at the same time. Sorry she didn’t take better care of it. Their bathroom has their names hand painted on the walls. I did that. I painted their names and phrases I wanted them to see to start their day. I wanted to make it their space so I made it unique. Guess someone will paint over that very soon. They will paint over the door jamb where we marked the inches as our little ones grew too. A few swipes with a paintbrush and whoosh-years if memories are gone. Just gone.

We didn’t know we were going to fill the 4th bedroom when we bought you. But soon we painted the walls the palest of pink. All of us-together. The walls were midnight blue so it took several coats to get it just right. But in the end it was the sweetest room in the house. Pale pink and white and prepared just for our baby girl. You gave us room to grow—so we did. I snuck upstairs and sat in the quiet bonus room the night before my daughter was born. We had so much room to spread out. You gave us space to grow but also rooms to come together.

The kitchen wallpaper project still makes me laugh. We had no idea what we were doing and we had no business starting the project so late at night. Nor did we have the skills necessary to paper with the harlequin diamond pattern I picked out. No telling how much paper we used trying to get the lines just right. You had every right to protest by shocking him mid-way thru the project. You were probably annoyed. In the end it looked pretty-just like I wanted-for the first, and last, combined family Thanksgiving that we ever had.

Our daughters first birthday was here. So was the art party when the girl-child turned 10 (?). It was on the sidewalk that boy child turned and shouted, “love you mom,” even though he had about 8 friends waiting in the car.

You saw family traditions being made—like pizza Tuesday’s. We had family toboggan night because we kept it so cold in the winter. There were fires where we all gathered round. We laughed and cried in our home. You heard it all; the fights and the sweet moments. Oh the stories you could tell if only you could talk. There were baseball games in the backyard and pitching practice that broke most of your fence posts. A few games we all played together. Your yard was uneven and tilted a bit but it still made a fine place to run around.

I hated that concrete slab with no personality. Hated. I tried and tried to fix it but never quite did. It was ugly and boring but we managed to have some laughs. There were one or two cold beers enjoyed there and more than a dozen mozzarella burgers were cooked out there. We carved pumpkins and made s’mores out there too, so it wasn’t all bad. Oh how you deserved a nice screen porch though. Maybe you’ll get one now.

Nail holes line every wall. You used to hold pictures of precious moments in time. Generations of smiles were displayed on your walls. Your tall walls made a stately canvas for my pictures. I loved having room to hang them all. Now the empty spaces and barren walls hurt my heart.

You saw many a Christmas—including the last one with the world’s ugliest tree. Sorry I didn’t get to make that up to you. I didn’t know we’d never have another Christmas there. I’ll stop there because I just can’t think about what I thought was the perfect Christmas.

The stair project proved to be more then we could handle—although in the end I liked the results. Wonder if those steps will be promptly carpeted again now that you aren’t ours? The family runs up and down those stairs will never know the hours and hours and hours of painting and re-painting and building that went into that little decorating idea.

The last project was to make my bedroom into a sanctuary. And we did. And I loved it. It was the closest I could come to re-creating the peace I feel when I am standing on a beach. The pale walls and wainscoting were like deep breaths when I settled in at night. I loved it until it became the place where all the walls came crashing down.

I am not quite ready to let go the memories of me, sitting there in the den, holding my baby girl while she slept away the first part of her life. I spent many a night watching her and holding her while you watched over us and held us safe and secure in your walls. I prayed a little and cried a lot wondering what was wrong. She got better and I quit having so many late nights or worrisome moments.

But there are also happy moments that I am not quite ready to let go of. Like the first time the baby girl crawled across the carpet or those first tentative steps she made in her footed sleeper right there in the room we called an office (which made a much better dining room). There were funny moments too like when my son was telling me about his first kiss while I was yelling at her not to tee-tee on the floor during potty training. Or the time she learned to run and would say “STAY BACK” as she pummeled those plump arms and ran from the den to the front door and back again.

Wonder what people will make of the bubble gum pink room under the stairs. I bet it gets turned back into a closet instead of the magic room we made it into. They will never know how sweet it was to see baby girl and big brother sound asleep in this crooked little nook. Or to know about the hours our girls spent tucked in there reading.

You were our home. Home is where the heart is rings true. Or, my favorite, home is where your story begins. How true. I used to love the stories that began in you, our home. Home is about having a place to dream. Home keeps you safe. Home is where the ones you love gather. Home is about surrounding yourself with things you love. It’s a place with you celebrate triumphs and mourn losses. It’s a haven.

But you aren’t my home anymore. You weren’t taken care of even though you took care of us. You sheltered and protected us. It was our job to take care of you but that didn’t get done. We didn’t appreciate you enough to keep you. We failed. And now you’ll belong to someone else. I drive by you every day and most days I still have to look away. I’ll have to learn to take another road when the sign goes up in your yard. I don’t know what I’ll do when there are other children playing in your yard or when my red door gets painted black. It’s not your fault-I know you’ll make someone very happy…you made me happy. You’ll be a great home to some new family. A whole family.

Goodbye 1251.

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