In my lifetime, I have moved 16 times (roughly). I’ve lived in three states and 11 cities. No, I wasn’t part of a military family. I lived with adventurous parents who decided to move to Hawaii when I was four, and lived in multiple Southern California cities before settling in Northern Arizona. They settled, and I moved on – seven times (eight, counting my and my husband’s latest move).
I sit now, on our couch in my 17th home, my 12th city, my eighth move since turning 18. No, my husband is not military, either. Apparently I am just adventurous, too.
The reason I am writing this blog is not to talk about how many times I’ve moved, though I see why it might appear that way. I am writing because this move affected me differently than all the rest, for some reason. I can probably attribute most of these feelings to pregnancy hormones, but no matter what the reason, I have been very emotional about this move – and it’s the closest move I’ve ever made; two blocks from my last house. Uh, you’re being a bit dramatic and ridiculous, Rachelle, I bet you’re thinking. And I wouldn’t blame you!
Why now, out of all the moves I’ve done, am I feeling so emotional? Being the thinker that I am, I have been pondering long and hard about this over the past few days. I will admit that, every time I’ve moved, I’ve stood for a moment in each of my empty homes, gone from empty room to empty room with lumps in my throat, recalling the countless memories in each one.
This, I have concluded in the past few days, is where the emotions are coming from. Given enough time, just like with anything, feelings of attachment fade and tend to become non-existent. I can visit my parent’s current house – a house I lived in from the ages of 15 to 21 – and not think about the silly teenager I was when I lived there. I can walk into my old room and see my mom’s new office rather than the room where I spent hours talking on the phone or agonizing over algebra.
I can drive by the street in my hometown where I had my first apartment and not even think about it. But the last few moves are still very fresh in my mind, and I think that this move is reminding me of just how much of life’s moments have taken place in these houses that were once homes.
In the past, I’ve always moved far enough away from each house that I left one house completely before moving into the next. There was no going back after the moving truck pulled from the driveway. The keys were no longer mine, and there was nothing to do but look forward. Well, with this house being two blocks from our last house, I have been there countless times to gather stragglers. I keep going back. I can walk through the empty house not once, but time after time, with memories almost alive surrounding me.
And it’s those memories that are making me sad; not memories of only this last house, but memories of the past few houses I’ve lived in. That’s what makes a house a home after all, right? That’s what I keep telling my boys. They were sad at the anticipation of leaving our last house, but now they seem fine. More fine than I am, that’s for sure! I’ve been telling them that it won’t be long before this house feels like home. I tell them that a home is all about the people living in it (and the fact that we’re all still together) and the memories we will make in it, together.
I think it’s the realization of how many things have happened in so many different homes, and this last house, the one where we brought our second son home when he was born, is another home about to be gone from our lives.
I have, of course, had monumental things happen in each home I’ve lived in since moving out of my parent’s house. My husband and I got married and came home to our first house. I got my literary agent while living in my second house. He sold it to a publisher while living in our third house. We brought our first son home to our fourth house. We brought our second home to our sixth house. And now we are in our seventh house together, starting the process, once again, of turning it into a home.
But that’s okay. I like change, and I’m usually fine with it. But this one has been hard for some silly reason. We drive by our old house every single day, and we will for years. I’ve been dwelling on the thought of how long it will take before I no longer think of that house as home. Today I said to my boys something about the old house being our old home, and my older son said, “It still feels like it IS our home.”
Truth. He’s absolutely right. We pull into that driveway to pick up some stragglers, and it feels like we are coming home. Of course it does, we’ve only been gone a few days.
So the point of writing this isn’t to say how uncomfortable it’s been moving into a new house – because I think there’s always a little of that mixed in with the excitement of moving into a new house. The point is to just get down in words why I have been feeling so down in the midst of this move, and now I understand why. I just have to remind myself that, with each passing day, this house, as we share moments in it together, will eventually turn into our home. It just takes time.
We will bring our baby girl home to this house in November, and that will be our first monumental memory made here. Three houses, three children. It would have been nice to have brought them all home to the same house, but I seem to be too much of a drifter for that. No matter how long we are in this house, I will make it my home for myself and for my family, and teach my kids the real value of a house – creating beautiful memories that will eventually turn it into a home.