“You leave home, you move on and you do the best you can. I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am.” — Miranda Lambert
Editor’s Note: A big shout out to Miranda Lambert for writing “The House that Built Me” because I probably listened to this over 50 times while sobbing in the fetal position after my parents sold my childhood home in April.
Turning out of my driveway for the last time eight months ago was the first and (hopefully) only time that I’ve had my heart broken by an inanimate object.
My parents built the house on River Bend Court before I reached my first birthday. The only constant in my life has been the familiar smell of laundry while walking through the back door and the somewhat creepy Civil War statue that lurked in my backyard courtesy of my history-crazed dad. Sometimes, I would look out there and legitimately think a reenactor was stalking me from the tree-line.
It’s the only house where my now late grandparents came for Christmas. It’s where I would wedge myself between my bed and wall to cry about getting teased relentlessly in ninth grade. It’s where two boys snuck out to meet me one summer night, which was immediately busted by my dad who chased them into the cow pasture. “You’re headed directly into the electric fence,” I screamed after them. My 11th grade love interests weren’t exactly readying their Harvard applications.
I have a tendency to attach meaning to almost everything. For example, I have a pair of socks I wore on the night I had my first kiss, and I still have those in my drawer to this day. So, when my parents decided that our house was no longer what they wanted, it felt like we were abandoning a loyal, loving friend.
During my senior year of high school, they told me they would wait until I graduated from college. That’s fine. I have four years.
After I graduated from college, they told me they would wait until I got my first job and moved out. Okay, that could take awhile.
I got my first job and the house went up for sale in May of 2015. The market is down, I thought. Nobody wants a house.
In February of 2016 they found a house they liked. The offers on ours started coming in.
This is when I considered channeling “Stepbrothers” and pretending to be a racist, serial killer, whatever I needed to keep people away from my pseudo family member. I wanted to protect the house. I didn’t want anybody erasing the years of my life there, because I thought it would erase me.
The actual move happened so fast. Between my 24th birthday and finding out my sister was pregnant, it was hard to really soak everything in. I remember shutting my eyes and angrily telling myself “you have to remember. You must remember,” While stroking the carpet in my parents’ closet.
Their closet always felt like a panic room to me. It was a place that shielded me from all the ugly stuff going on outside its walls.
I haven’t been anywhere near that house since we left. It’s too painful.
My biggest fear is that I will forget the sight of the daffodils growing along the walkway in the spring, how the staircase railing could fit a leg, but definitely not a head, the smell of the fireplace, the abundance of natural light in every room.
The next step in my career could take me anywhere in the country. Before I leave for that mysterious place, I will go to River Bend Court one more time. I know that seeing it in an altered state will hurt me, but I feel like I must kiss its forehead and make peace with its new life in order to finally let go.
After that, it will become another one of my ghosts. A friendly ghost, but a ghost nonetheless.
Well, I guess this is growing up.