When we told Rachel that we were moving to our new house next week, the first thing she said was: and how long are we going to live in that house mommy? Because from her birth to the age of seven, she would have lived in five different houses (which is only an average of about a year in a bit in each house).
I suppose there are lots of people that live this way, but my memories of childhood are rooted very firmly in one house, at the end of a winding gravel road. I knew every corridor by heart, the bits of carpet and where they were frayed, the creak the floorboards made, the width of the verandah, the wicker laundry basket I’d hide my sister in;). Childhood = one house with a green roof to me. But for Rachel, it’s completely different.
I suppose this is modern-day living, this uprootedness, this constant change and search for something more. But when I answered her question yesterday, I really hoped that what I said would be true. I told her that this was the house she would grow up in, that we would grow old in. That this would maybe even be the house where she’d bring her own tiny children one day. Of course, I know this is wishful thinking, because this city, this country and the world are uncertain places, but there’s no harm in putting your heart into a building and wanting to make it your forever home.
Because I want to build the kids a treehouse in our new garden. I want to scribble their heights against the back of the bathroom door. I want them to make friends with the neighbour’s kids and I want to pop across the road for a glass of wine. I want to put down some roots for once.
So this weekend we are packing boxes, and putting things in tottering piles, and taking down pictures, and defrosting the fridge. There is packing tape everywhere, and there will most likely be frayed tempers, and meals eaten standing out of white containers, and lots of things getting lost.
Our new house has been a much loved family home for 37 years and it brings with it so many memories. There are children that grew up in the house, and now they have had children of their own, and the house must now pass on to another family, to us, who will respect its heritage and fill it with love and laughter, and our own share of tears I’m sure as well.
For this is the cycle of life. And we will blink and soon it will be our time to sell it and move on.
It feels very momentous, this. Like something from a Volkswagen advert. Like one of those old fashioned silent movies people used to make on shaky video cameras that showed sepia images of people wearing out dated clothing and going about the big business of living – stepping over the threshold into REAL PROPER GROWN UP LIFE. Maybe the kind they day dreamed about when they were just little farm girls, swinging on a black gate under an open sky.
They are also the kind of life moments that make you miss your own parents, because they are moments you want to share.
So I will be sure to soak it up, to commit every tiny detail to memory, no matter how stressful it is.
Have lovely weekends all, and wish me luck!