A House is Not a Home

Thanks to the magic of Google maps, I do not have to take a new image to show my childhood home. I lived here from the end of 6th grade through junior year of college. The house was white with light blue trim originally but my parents decided on a chocolate brown upgrade.

I recently learned that my mother sold our house to move into an older adult apartment community, aka retirement place where people go to die community. I know this is strong language, but I am speaking my truth. She has wanted to sell even before my dad died, over 10 years ago. I do not know if I will get the chance to see it in-person one last time before she vacates.

Here’s the thing: I spent most of my childhood in various apartments in four states from birth to age 11. I had 4 homes from 2nd through 6th grade, including going to two different schools in separate states for both 5th and 6th grades. We finally “settled down ” when I was 11 as my parents purchased this modest home in a predominantly affluent housing development. It is the only house I ever lived in, with a yard and separation from neighbors. This meant privacy and less noise ( outside of my family dramas). Why my parents could not wait for the summer to move says way more about how I was parented then anything else. My moon in Gemini in the fourth house would speak to the frequent disruptions, but damn, my dad was not in the military!

This ordinary suburban split level structure was filled with drama, kind of like Game of Thrones, but without the dragons or intriguing character arcs. It contained plenty of power plays, betrayals, and arguments. I would not call it a happy home. But a house is not a home.

I have not as of yet lived in a house as an adult. My homes have all been apartments. While my current home is fine, it is small and a bit crowded with stuff because of insufficient storage space. Maybe this is partly why I am having some difficulty letting my old house go. This is a place, mind you, that I rarely visited once I moved away. I could not wait to get out of there and told myself I would not return. My sister did live there a few years after college, but I did not.

The therapist part of me knows that I still want to ” reclaim my childhood” before letting go of the house. I have done as much inner work as I can on this. When I consider the fond memories, they are overshadowed by darkness, with one exception.

That would be the music.

My mom plays piano well and this gift was passed down from her father who learned by ear. I don’t know how he was exposed to the piano, but he did play in the silent movie theaters, so I am told. The house was warm with emotion when my mom sang and played on many an evening. She lit up completely while playing. I believe she was born to play. She says the piano is going with her to the new place.

Google maps has made it possible for me to move on even if I cannot find time for a visit before the place is packed up or occupied by the new residents. I hope they make it a house filled with love. When or if they have children ( it is a young couple), I pray they figure out how to parent them well, or well enough. Maybe then they won’t all grow up to be therapists and heal others as a way to address their unhealed parts.

I am afraid this post is coming off rather bitter, but this is not my intention. I am still figuring out why I am bothered so much by this event. I can understand why my mother wants to live among people her age and have activities and transportation at her disposal. All I know is that I feel sad and a bit confused.

I am well aware that home is inside me, at the seat of my soul. A house is a structure made up of matter, which is not solid. I don’t remember my family being that messed up until we moved in. Perhaps it had to do with my parents’ entrance into middle age and the state of the marriage. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I will continue living life the best I know how, with faith that I can find joy and peace within. And some sweet music wouldn’t hurt either.

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