I almost didn't do it, what with the mad rush of it all and the absolute deadline of a 6:30 am taxi pickup; but I took a moment early this morning, just before driving off with the last of my stuff (except the bikes I realised later I'd left behind in the bike shed), to walk around its clean and empty rooms and say farewell to my old house.
It's funny: there was so much that was annoying and uncomfortable about it – and it was dark and crooked and creaky and slowly sinking into the ground – but I think of all my houses, it's the one I have the most love for.
My kids became adults there.
I grew up there too: I feel like I finally stopped treading water and started swimming around. And probably because of that, it's the house where I had the fewest sad times and the most happy ones. Plus I really became a part of the local community – I felt like I belonged, and was not just passing through.
There were times when I thought I might live there forever. Of course the house wouldn't have lasted that long; but that's how I felt.
As it turns out, I'm leaving for all sorts of happy reasons and embarking on a brand new chapter of my life. It's exciting and it's a step up. Still, it was nice to take a few minutes to reflect on how kind this house has been to me and my family (albeit with a bit of tough-love), what a safe place it's been for us (and for my kids' friends: mine was the house they could come to to sober up before going home, and more than a few teenage romances began in that cosy darkish loungeroom), and how handily close it was to anything you needed to do (unless it required a hardware store) and most of my favourite places.
Also, of course, it saw the birth of Echidna Love Train!
My new house is much nicer – it's much less crooked and cracked, full of light, has spacious living areas and a modern (well, 1980s at least) kitchen, a bathroom you can swing a cat in, a garage and workshop, and an owner who actually gives a shit to keep it nice – and I know we'll be happy there. Like I said, it's a real step up in lots of ways. But my old house is like that first half-decent guitar you had that, while not good enough to really take you far, was the bridge between being crap and being good. And you don't stay on the bridge (or you don't get anywhere) but you sure as hell appreciate it for where it got you.
And it was a pretty damn fine bridge.
So long, old house: it's been good to know you.
(Oh yeah I'll be back for the bikes on the weekend.)