Friday, June 25, 2010

Thoughts on Leaving My Old Home---A Friday Photo-Journal

My condo sold and finally closed about two weeks ago.  I lived there since May 1, 1994....Sixteen years.

On the afternoon that it finally changed hands, before I had to give up my keys at the closing, I took a private walk through the empty unit and around the grounds.

This was after the tedious months of making the deal, cleaning, and packing.  I met deadlines, moved my belongings out on schedule, and suffered delay after delay.... until the buyer's mortgage bank decided it need no longer be cautious.

Fatigue and uncertainty (would the deal fall through? what then?) overtook any feelings of nostalgia I might have had, even while I sorted through old pictures and journals that I put away and never looked at until I had to pack them again. 

It was usually very quiet there in the afternoons, but this was almost a deathly quiet, a sacred quiet.  I expected to look at the bare walls, the plain grey carpet, the new kitchen and the sliding door out onto the tranquil and tree-shaded balcony, and feel a detached relief.

Then I remembered standing in that kitchen side by side with my grandfather while we prepared a big dinner for Mark and his sons. 

I looked out my bedroom window at the abandoned nest of the robin that made her home there every year.  I was reminded again of my own pet cockatiel, and the time I first found an egg in the little cage she favored above my refrigerator.  I remembered the little memorial service when she finally passed away.

I looked at the ceiling fan, not spinning, over a bare dining room that once had a long table filled with friends for Saturday night dinners.

I stood in the corner overlooking the big square living room; so plain, but the voices of my favorite actors, and music from the hundreds of films I enjoyed there, whispered in the still air. 

I moved into the brick-walled hallway and it never looked so beautiful....a throwback to an old architectural design, one I was sure I would not see again, beaming with reflected sun and obscured in arty shadow.

The pond out back still had the bench where I would sit and read on my days off.  I walked Maggie there on those amusing days where she would visit and make friends of everyone she met.  I walked the pond path around which I jogged untold number of miles, listened to the unusual sound of bullfrogs, and observed neighbors I never met passing lazy aftenoons with fishing poles.

I took one last look at my unit before I locked the door one more time.  I left it as I came to it.  But this time, its arms were open not in welcome, but in release. It was letting me go.  I no longer belonged to it...and it no longer belonged to me....

With heaving sobs as I drove away I tried to purge the images of my grandfather, and of Mark when we first met,and of Mark's young boys, and of my little pet bird, and of the friends I made there, and of the wall-painting parties, and of the long summer walks, and the poems written and the sunsets photographed and the wild geese and other birds and the neon from the hotel across the pond reflected in the still night water, and the books I read, and the drafty winters as the snow piled up on the deck.... 

And they fixed in my mind like the fading photographs that I packed up and took with me to my new home.


  1. Moving is so surreal. You've captured that beautifully, movingly.

  2. What a poignant farewell to a lovely home, Tom. Such wonderful pictures and your stirring narrative created a vivid picture of a happy life there. Very well done! Time to make some new wonderful memories my friend!

  3. A truly wonderful post, absolutely capturing those feelings of leaving your home, your castle, even if ultimately the next stage is for the better.

  4. Wow, I am really humbled by all of your comments. Being able to share these moments with you is what this is all about, for me. Thank you for your support, and friendship.
    Each one of you: Tom, Eric, Walter, and Ben--has a unique and special talent....and I appreciate what each of you do so much. What an honor to be graced with your visitis.

  5. Tom, I love your style of writing. As I have told you before, you use such vivid language that I want the story and the memories to keep being told so i can keep reading. Seriously, you ought to write a coming-of-age novel. I bet everyone would be able to relate to the sentiments and memories, even if the memories are not our own.

    My vote: more blogs about memories and stages of life!

  6. Great post! I kind of feel the same way when my old cars finally get towed away. Probably because I keep them so long until they eventually die and are no longer worth fixing. My current vehicle is going on 17!