I take this moment to farewell my childhood home, which my parents have sold. They are moving to what is, frankly, a nicer house. It is a wise move that I fully support. I wish them all the comfort in the world, long into their retirement.
I have immense love for our home – and I sing its praises now. As a house, it is nothing grand or spacious. Its location – close to a train line, near an old mine (close to the Golden Vine!) – is nothing special. But it will always be my first house, my one and only childhood home.
I enjoyed endless afternoons and weekends in this house, with my parents and sister, treasured friends and family, or alone, interacting, resting, imagining and simply living. I spent countless nights under its roof, asleep and dreaming of all the possibilities of life ahead.
I hosted parties and enjoyed celebrations; I consoled my parents and was consoled by them in times of loss. Chenda and I even married in the backyard – at very short notice, before our proper wedding, to reduce any possibility of living apart.
I moved out of it – but this house always held a piece of my heart. Then I made moving back into it something of an art form. I returned with, at various stages of my emerging adulthood, a confused mind, exciting new plans, and even a partner and new baby. Each homecoming brought with it a sense that, for however long I was staying, this was a place where I could belong.
When I returned recently to say goodbye, I sought to capture every angle of the house on camera. I am grateful that my daughter was there with me. She found her way into some of the photos, asking questions and pointing to things I had long stopped noticing. She helped me remember patterns and angles I had lost the ability to see.
Patterns in the glass door, the bricks and the concrete evoked in me serene and sometimes difficult memories. Joy and sadness rose up in waves. The angles, though, were not as they once had been. I was viewing them from a markedly different vantage point, a much greater height. My memories were of a different place, and a different time. Moreover, I was recalling them as a different person.
Our house, I realised, was not as it had once been, not just because my parents had renovated it and transformed the garden. But also because the world around it, myself included, had changed. Being there – physically – was suddenly not as crucial anymore to my sense of this house as home.
It was my spiritual connection to this place that remained. There was the thought of those invisible boundaries of my neighbourhood. I had drawn them in my mind years ago, guided by the streets, train tracks, creeks and paths that stretch out from my home in different directions. (My home – like anyone else’s – sits at the centre of my neighbourhood.)
There was the recurring dream I have of being a child in this house, living eternally in the moment, with no sense of history and no care for the future.
And there was the daydream I occasionally have of myself, frail and elderly, sitting contented on the couch in the lounge room, gazing out the window, reflecting on a life lived.
These are stories – comforts – that exist only in my mind. These thoughts are merely signs of a spiritual connection with my very first home that will remain part of me, wherever I venture. They can remain in my mind, whether or not my parents are in our house.
I will always love this house and everything it has given me, through times of happiness and despair, silence and noise. It has simply been a home – but it has been my home. I say goodbye to it.
I promise the new owners that I will never move back in again (even if it is up for rent!) It is, after all, no longer our house. But I will revisit it often in my mind – remembering it always as our home.