Two weeks before my 25th birthday I bought a condo. It was a big step, but I was ready to move out on my own. It is a two bedroom garden style with a postage stamp yard, small kitchen and a fireplace. The walls were Pepto Bismal pink with pink carpet and the place was dirty, but it was all mine. After a couple of weeks of cleaning and painting I moved in with a new couch, hand-me-downed bed and a few borrowed pieces of furniture. Twelve years later it is not just a condo, but my home. I turned the place into my quiet haven. Each room has a touch of myself in it. Not only the sweat equity of painting the rooms, but pieces of my personality. I have created gardens in the front and back and made this place and the surrounding area truly my own.
Now on the eve of moving out, I look around and remember hanging each picture, picking out the curtains, making the cork wreath, taking and printing photographs and so much more. This place, my home is filled with memories and mementos of my life and travels, but also those of my family and friends.
Tomorrow I am moving into my parent’s house. Back into the home that has been in my family for over forty years and the bedroom where I spent my adolescence. I am moving home to my parents because as each day blooms, my cancer spreads and my body deteriorates. I am no longer able to be alone or take proper care of myself.
I gave up driving two months ago. I still use the car to drive the ¼ mile to the village center and get my Starbucks, prescriptions or a few groceries a couple times a week, but it is my parents that are driving me around to my appointments. As of tomorrow I will not be driving at all.
Giving up driving was hard enough, needing to use a cane even harder, but none of that compares to the loss of independence that is involved with moving back home. I am 37 years old, and with the exception of a couple of months while a friend stayed here, I have lived alone for over 12 years. I have been spoiled with the ability to come and go when I please, played my music as loud as I wanted, cooked whatever I craved and reveled in my quiet time. For those of you that have lived alone you know what is like. You can do whatever you want including leaving your dirty laundry on the floor, the dishes in the sink and shoes by the front door if that is what pleases you.
My parents are being great about me coming back to live with them. They are rearranging their house so that I may have my own space with some my stuff around me. But it won’t be the same as having my own room when I was growing up, because it is just more evidence of how my life is changing. I am happy that my parents live 15 minutes away and I will still be able to keep stuff in my house and can stop and get what I need or spend time here. I know it is the right thing to do, but damn it, why does the right thing sometimes have to be so hard.
I am going to miss my house, going to miss having all the little reminders of my life for the past twelve years within an arm’s reach. So tonight I mourn. I mourn for the loss of my independence, for leaving my home – my space of comfort and leaving behind so many of my possessions and I mourn for my declining health.
I remember the day I signed my name for what seemed like a thousand times that made me (and the bank) the official owner of my own home. I remember the trepidation, the excitement and the how if felt to know that I was starting a new chapter in my life. Tonight, I know that I am not starting anew, but in the process of finishing the last chapter of my life. They say you can’t go home again, but I am. It is not lost on me the symbolism of the return to where I grew up. I am closing the circle of my life. I started in my parent’s house and that is where I will end.