Friday, September 2, 2011

Houses and Homes

About a year ago, my parents started throwing around the idea of selling our house once Meagan left for college. I didn’t really think they’d do it, but otherwise I didn’t have any kind of reaction to this brainstorming. At the beginning of this summer, we got rid of a ton of stuff, hired in a stager to arbitrarily declare that arranging the furniture this way and that would guarantee a buyer, and put the For Sale sign in the front yard. Other than being annoyed at the inconvenience of the whole ordeal, I still didn’t care. But last week, my parents called to tell me that they had received and offer and signed a contract, and I burst into tears. My poor father, on the other end of the line, was stunned at such a dramatic reaction, and I blubbered an explanation: “I won’t have a home!”
“It’s just a house!” he replied. “I would hope that wherever your mom and I are would be your home.”
“It’s not the same!” I wailed. “I’ll never get to come home! I’ll always just be a guest in my parents’ house!”

As embarrassing as it is to admit, I cried myself to sleep that night. The next morning my mom sent me an email detailing all the reasons they had for selling the house, but even thinking about it for more than ten seconds made my lower lip start to quiver.
I still don’t know why I had such a strong reaction to this news, and it makes even less sense when you consider the fact that yesterday, I moved here:

The older sister of a Jewell friend just bought this house in Mission, Kansas, and the three of us have moved in. It’s the next big step in my becoming an adult. I’m paying rent. I picked out all new bedding. I bought my own toilet paper for the first time in my life. I had to kill a spider the size of my head in the shower this morning. Last week I was talking to Abby on the phone, trying to orchestrate some moving-in details, and when I asked if something was okay to bring, she gently said, “Remember, this is your home, too.” Again, I felt my bottom lip start to quiver, and again, I couldn’t figure out why these irrational emotions were bubbling up.

I’ve lived a more transient life than most. Our first move was shortly after my first birthday, from Kansas City to Phoenix. Sixteen months later we moved to a small town in Arizona called Snowflake, where I attended kindergarten. On the last day of school we moved to a suburb of Chicago, where I spent first through third grade. Right after I turned nine we moved to Franklin, Tennessee, and then eleven days before my fourteenth birthday we moved to Monument, Colorado. There my family has stayed, but I’ve been to Jewell, to Oxford, across Europe, and back. I think I’ve clung to our Monument house because for once, it felt permanent. Like I had just been dating other houses and locations and this was my one-true-love house.

Visiting my parents will now always require a suitcase. Their house will be their house, and my house will be my house, but Abby and my dad were right—both will be my home.

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