My childhood home is for sale.
It was designed by my father, an architect. He and my mom imagined it together, planned and coordinated the construction and details for close to a year, and then moved us all in when it was complete.
I vividly remember my first entrance through the front door, a five-year-old excited by the newness of it all, being greeted by my mother in the entryway and told to look around and tell her what I thought. I told her I loved it.
My parents decorated our house in the colors of the times – brown and yellow, rusty red, avocado green and white accents. It would have been easy for them to overdo it, but they managed it well, creating a classy balance of hues and tones. They included personal elements from their lives; large wall hangings from South America, pieces of art they’d created, reminders of their travels together. The house had a distinct personality that was warm and inviting, unique yet comfortable.
After my sister and I grew up and moved out, my parents sold the house. As happens, the new owners made changes to fit their preferences. When they sold, the next owners did the same.
I get it, I understand. The privilege of ownership allows for these decisions, regardless of what was before. But it’s a hard thing, seeing the changes.
Viewing the carefully-staged online photos, the ones intended to attract buyers and encourage showings, I felt cold. Where was the wet bar where my father crafted Pisco Sours while family friends filled the living room with music and dancing and happy energy? What happened to the walls of wooden bookshelves, the ones with a warm glow that perfectly sheltered the collections they contained? Why were walls and doors moved and colors erased? Why did everything seem bland and boring, perfectly perfect yet lacking the personality that I knew so well?
Perhaps if my father was still alive and if my mother wasn’t nearing the end of her life, it wouldn’t matter as much to me. It’s possible I’d look at those photos and be able to focus on the improvements – the extra kitchen space and the hardwood floors and such – and simply be glad that the house exists. Perhaps I could be happy that it is cared for and a place where new memories are being made, even if I don’t like what’s been done to the place itself.
I’m unable, however, to do that right now. All I see is what’s missing. All I notice is that it’s not the house that I remember, the house that I knew.
Not all of my memories are pleasant. There were sometimes troubled times within those walls. And, I have since created my own home, the place where my children grew up and where my adult memories live. When I think of “home” now, that is what first comes to mind. Nevertheless, I will always feel a deep connection to the house my parents built.
Here’s to accepting that life is full of change. Here’s also to allowing for the sad ache that comes from missing what used to be real.