I’m almost 40 years old. My Father has decided to sell our family home; the house of our childhood, my cocoon. I’m at the time in life where adult children witness parents moving on. It is perhaps, the last thread attaching the child me to the adult me. Cut it, rip it, take it out, by all means! Shall I mourn for this remnant of my youth or watch in delight as the great seam ripper, Time, comes to make that final snip, severing the girl I was from the woman I am; a new season. In some ways, the house I grew up in tethers me to immaturity, and imperfection-even being there at times, brings me back in attitude, personality and the perspective of a little girl, a child. We all do it, we assume our first role, when placed in environments which summon part, because it is natural to us. It is also natural and wonderful to release that role, that ten year old girl. Room must be made for the adult I continue to become. Adulthood is not so much about age, turning 40, or 21. Being an adult happens over a long period of time and the goal is total ripeness and perfection. We are like fruits on a tree, saplings in a garden, until time and circumstance matures us and moves us along. My perfect might be different from your perfect, but perfection is the goal from the time we are conceived.
We must all let go of our toys and games that once belonged to our younger self, a self who couldn’t see or hear or understand life fully, but filtered everything through slanted senses and small windows. We must give up our possessions, our selfish ambitions, our stubborn tendencies for better things- sacrifice, growth and wisdom; sometimes affliction. Our work becomes less “fun”, our decisions a little more weighty. We sell off our fears of nighttime and monsters, the ‘us’ who remain silent at injustice, or greedy for the last piece of pie. We should release insistence upon our way, ignorance of social etiquette and inappropriate behavior. We make a shift from taking to giving, from me to us, from asking why did this happen, to asking questions like how can we fix this? We benefit a great deal from moving on , moving out and stepping up to the plate of the world; putting distance between the temporary bedrooms of adolescence and the residence of middle age. Letting go of some things means we are ready for other things to fill our time and space.
As adults, we become the audience as our parent’s homes are torn down, sold off, packed up and abandoned. Life must go on, men must grow up, things must be released, improved upon, allowed to become different. Our hands and hearts our only so big to hold the important things. I assume what’s important, changes over time. we redefine what takes precedence. Priority’s change. Letting go of childhood means we free ourselves to grasp tightly the realities of middle life and old age. Our own stories must be written, and re-written and made new until they are made final and complete, whole and perfect. We must keep adding new chapters, rather than re-visiting the old ones.
It’s time for a change. As the colder winds increase, and colors glow orange and sienna on the once green tapestry, I see how even the world holds a pen and re-writes its story over and over again. I smell the autumn of life in the air. transformation is coming. A new pattern emerges, a new space, a reworked idea. Like a quilt, a new patch of fabric, can mean a whole new look, a new deal.
I have no severe feelings about the selling of the house. It proves my maturity. I’m ready to let go and move on. I’m embracing a healthy carelessness, because I know in the grown-up parts of myself, what this means. It means, I don’t have to care, I don’t have to feel bad, or good about the passing of time and papers. I can just accept what is. I can choose what to feel, and, I choose indifference. Its just a house, a symbol, a token of something that has passed. I’m not little and powerless anymore, that I would allow circumstance to overwhelm and define me. I certainly can’t stop progress, and why would I want to? I can, however, decide how to manage myself in the progression. Life has made me indifferent in all the right places. I don’t need to care about every detail. I don’t need to get involved unless it counts. What really shapes me is not trying to prevent the past from fading, but acknowledging the future is here and I have an important role in it. I have power to welcome it and share it with those I love. The best reality is this: I need to not care about some things, in order to care deeply about others. I’m not God, for crying out loud, I can’t care deeply and meaningfully about everything. I have to choose, but also the most beautiful thing is, I get to choose.
So, I choose to not grieve the loss of my childhood home. I will not miss it. I will smile at it’s influence and presence on the child I was and the woman I am. I’m thrilled at the freedom I have gained to distinguish between what matters now and what doesn’t. love matters, people matter, houses…well they come and go.
The one thing I may have grieved is already gone. The front porch swing, it was an old wooden bench, attached to the porch ceiling with chains, floating effortlessly, silently through the air. It overlooked the most horrendous junk yard. But it happened to be my favorite spot, regardless of the view. The swing only complained during storms, when the wind would force it into the side of the house, again and again- riding it like a ghost. I can see it in my mind. I can hear my father’s voice calling me out on a Sunday afternoon to sit with him. I can feel his heavy arm around my shoulders as we pondered life and he told me all the things that mattered. Dad offered it to me, A relic, perhaps his last thread, a memory he kept for a long time. I declined his offer. My memory is good enough and it takes up no space in my garage. Many of the things that made that old place endearing to me are likewise gone. The house itself is like a shell, a body of flesh and bone I once danced with. The party is over, the lights have been drawn on the damp basement where Dad would spin his magic and invent his life. The old wood around the bathroom tub now replaced with shiny white walls, the tiny video game room with an old mattress in lew of chairs has been renovated and even the rough spiky street has been repaved. Slowly, ever so slowly over time, it also has grown up. Been replaced, refaced, upgraded, made new. Now the old white house on Chapel Lane is ready to move on as well.
We grow out of our child selves, our old ways, habits, world views, ideas and feelings, little by little we grow a new skin, we change and evolve. We replace childish ways with maturity, frail plantings with thriving strong oaks. We are not forgotten, but made new, its not a sad day, it’s a new day. It’s the cycle of life. We keep what matters and discard the rest.
I feel excitement for what tomorrow brings. The old places in life are just buildings, temporary dwellings, just the earth; where we grow, not our eternal place. If we can let go and cut that final strand which holds us loosely to what was, we might just gain what is meant to be.