Well it's finally over. We both knew it would be some day, but we didn't think it would happen the way it did.
Yesterday Kevin and I took the last load of our belongings from the old house. It may sound funny - especially considering how much we love our new house - but we were both really shook when we left. For as many problems as we had with the house (or more accurately, the landlord), that house was still very special to us.
It's hard to explain it exactly, but we both feel that houses have spirits. Not in the ghoulish sense - though we know that we had a ghost at the old house, but rather in an all-around nurturing sense. For instance, the house we used to live in was old; it was built in 1905 and had seen it's share of lives lived within it's walls. By the time I moved in, 15 years ago, the house was in need of a number of repairs. It wasn't falling down by any means, but it was definitely in need of long overdue maintenance. Right from the start I mentioned a number of things to the landlord, but he either refused to do them, or did them as rock-bottom cheaply as possible. As a result, the house continued to fall into disrepair, but a funny thing happened: the more it needed repair, the more I loved it. That continued when Kevin and I got together. We both put a lot of love and sweat equity into that house and really made it a warm, loving home. The more we loved it, the more beautiful it became. It was almost as if, with each stroke of a paint brush, or each time the soil was worked, our home could feel the love and nurturing we were putting into it, and it returned to back to us twofold.
...until the first of July. On that particular day, a realtor knocked on our door and told us the house - our home - was now bank-owned and we had to find a new place to live. Almost immediately the repairs that had been so dire before, but that had waned a bit for the time being, came surging to the forefront. It was as if it could feel the love draining from it's walls. Kevin and I were there less and less as we searched for a new home. Once we found a new home and began packing up the old, it was clearly evident that this house - the one we'd laughed in and loved in for our entire history together - was losing it's spirit. It became a place of sadness; it no longer felt loved.
And so it was that before we walked out the door of our old home yesterday for the very last time, we stood in the very spot we stood in just over nine years ago and kissed as we had then for the first time. For the last time. We talked about all of the wonderful family gatherings we'd had there; the friends we'd entertained; the hopes and fears and dreams we'd shared there. And we smiled. And then we cried. We held each other tight for a long time and then, for the last time, we bid our home a fond and loving farewell.
It's anyone's guess what will happen to the house. It may be sold or it may be so far gone that it has to be torn down - it's hard to say. What I can say is that it will always hold a very special place in our hearts.
One last thing. I mentioned earlier in this post that we knew we had a ghost at the old house. I first felt it a few months after I moved in 15 years ago. Little things would happen: blinds would fly up and spin on their own; a bottle of wine would slip from it's place and crash to the ground leaving it's contents all over the floor for me to clean up (red wine, of course, when I had on white pants); my dog Hobbes would stand outside the bedroom and growl at something - or someone - but there was no one there. At first it was a bit unnerving, but as time went on, I came to believe that this ghost was a friendly one. Like a young person who was playing practical jokes to see what I would do. We became friends, that ghost and I. There were many times when I was on my own before Kevin and I got together that the ghost comforted me and made me feel safe in that house all by myself. When Kevin moved in, I told him about the ghost. At first I think he thought I was a bit crazy. But then, little by little, things would happen - just little things - and he could feel it, too. We both felt comforted by this friendly spirit and would even call out greetings to it from time to time. I know it sounds a bit nutty, but ... it's one of those things you'd have to experience yourself to know what I mean. Anyway ... the first day we were up at the new house painting, I rang the doorbell to see what it sounded like. I rang it about 10 times, but nothing happened. Ah well, the doorbell doesn't work - that's okay, no big deal. About two hours later, Kevin and I were in the kitchen ... and the doorbell chime sounded - but just once. We both looked at each other and smiled; we knew our ghost had followed us. We're glad to welcome it home ... just as it did for us for 15 (and nine) wonderful years.