At 11am today, I'll be signing a contract to put this house on the market. The house I grew up in, that belonged to mom & dad for over 40 years, in the neighborhood I haunted w/ my childhood pals, in the city I was born & raised in.
For those who've never had that kind of stability, who have never known a permanent fixture called "Mom & Dad's House", I don't know if you can imagine what this feels like. Liberating in some ways yes, but also strange & sad. I have roots here people. Deep roots. No matter where I went, no matter how long I was gone, I always knew I had this house to come HOME to. But mom & dad are gone now. My brother has his own life about a mile away. Those childhood pals have moved out of the neighborhood & created families & roots of their own.
Once this house is sold and I've moved out (and away), there will never be another reason to pull into this neighborhood (or driveway) again. I somehow figured that if I didn't keep the house, my brother would, so there would always be a place to come back to. But he's decided against it as well. Too many memories. Too much work. And frankly, this isn't the neighborhood it once was. Oh sure, the houses are still gorgeous, the lanes are tree lined & lovely, the property values have consistently gone up-up-up (this is one of the best neighborhoods in Long Beach), we still have the neighbors we've known ALL our lives. We wave to each other in passing, chatting pleasantly while we attend to yard chores or take out the garbage cans...
But this really isn't a Front Yard neighborhood anymore. Kids aren't chasing each other along the sidewalks, or racing up and down the block on bikes & skates. You don't see mom or dad in their driveways watching their kids play, you see them speeding down the street in their Hummers and Mercedes Benz's oblivious to anything but themselves & their cell phone conversation. No more block parties on hot summer days. No more baking cookies or borrowing sugar from one another. The children are being walked to the local park or driven to their soccer games & dance recitals by Spanish speaking nannies. Both parents are working late hours to keep up with The Jones's next door whom they don't even talk to. So, this is not the kind of neighborhood I want my daughter to grow up in. I want her to have buddies to swim, run, play & have sleepovers with. I also want to know that those buddies have parents who are PAYING ATTENTION to what goes on in their homes.
And so here we are. One chapter comes to an end. Another is about to begin. This is what turning mom & dad's telephone of 40+ years off last month felt like, but MUCH bigger. This is where I officially leave the physical manifestations of my childhood and become a grownup who has a life, a family, roots, etc. of her own.
No looking back. It's time.