As I walk through my house, which once had vibrant photos on the walls, shoes kicked off by the door, and bedsheets balled up on the mattress from a recent nights sleep— I cannot help but fight back tears. The kitchen utensils are no longer sorted neatly in the drawers and the teapot no longer sits on the stovetop. There are no lamps in the living room nor dust bunnies on the stairs. And my bedroom, the room that watched me grow up, is empty and bare.
I move from room to room, and all I can think of is the “Friends” finale (which was emotionally traumatizing for any 90s baby). Nothing to see but walls stripped of their decorations to expose only the memories that they hold.
I picture my little sister walking through the hallway, growing from toddler to young teenager in what seems like minutes. Every Christmas tree flashes through my mind, every Easter egg hunt, every tooth under every pillow, and every birthday candle blown out in exchange for a wish. I remember fights between parents and siblings, lessons learned and lessons taught, hellos and goodbyes, and can still hear the echoes of laughter through the soon-to-be vacant house.
I have to remind myself as I am switching off the lights and lock the door for a final time, that the house itself is not my home. It has been but a vessel for years of memories made. My home is my family, my friends, my dog. I am home wherever they are. They are the ones that reignite the memories and they will be the ones with me to create new ones.
I am excited for my new home— a brand new house for my family, and my very own apartment in the city. These are homes that will see many more holidays, gatherings, and those moments when you laugh until you cry. These are the homes that will be decorated with photos, have shoes on the porch, and bedsheets balled up on the mattresses. These homes will have dust bunnies on the stairs and a quaint little teapot on the stovetop.
They say “home is where the heart is”, and I bet there is a plaque on every grandmother’s wall to prove it. This must be one of the most cliche phrases of all time, but it is true. Moving out of your childhood home is sad, but it is also optimistic; you have your whole life ahead of you. Hand over the keys and go live it.