If you’ve ever added up the minutes you’ve spent mowing your lawn over the last twenty years, there is every chance in the world this action was followed by a flood of angry tears over the accumulation of hours, days, even weeks, lost on such a repetitive, thankless task. So much irretrievable time…did you really spend it all on a never-ending plant haircut? When you could have been doing something more rewarding, more relaxing, or more fun on those warm summer afternoons? For weeks???
Okay, yes, chasing a lawnmower all weekend lacks appeal and is pretty universally unpopular. But, in buying a home, you committed, and this is the burden of those fortunate enough to own a plot of grass, and this (the territory) comes with the territory. Responsibility. Chores. Expenditures. Roof replacements and flooding basements. But along with the mortgage payments and maintenance comes something far more important and penetrating: memories.
Ahh, the memories…
Well, without getting too maudlin, just sticking to the facts, here’s the truth: your living space looms large in your existence. It’s background to every scenario, shelter in every weather, a place to rest when you’re tired, retreat when things go wrong, rejoice when life gives cause to celebrate. Everything that happens in your life during the time you occupy a home resonates inside it.
So, when you make the decision, for whatever reason, that you need to move on, it’s important to let yourself feel the impact of what you’re leaving behind.
Upon expulsion, when leaving school for good, J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield said, “I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by…I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel worse.”
If you think we’re telling you that leaving a longtime home behind feels a little bit like mourning, that’s because it is. Whether you raised a family of six in your house or dwelled alone, leaving is leaving. While memories travel, their origins stay rooted. Moving out is not the same as moving on. If you tear off towards your new place without properly saying, “good-by” to the old one, you will, in fact, feel worse. In order to really let go, we have to know exactly what it is we’re releasing.
So, as you prepare your home for sale, as you pack up your belongings, and make lists of plans and priorities, check out of your checklists and allow yourself to pause. Make some time to sit quietly. To wander from room to room. To stand in the backyard where you spent all of those infernal hours cutting the grass and just remember. Remember the firsts, the lasts, and all of the blended-together kinds of days that made up a life for all the years you’ve been calling this place home. Repeat often. And by the time you pull away from the curb for the last time with all your worldly goods in tow, your preparation for departure is complete, having very little to do with your boxes of bubble-wrapped tchotchkes.
And remember too, while you sink into memories past, to keep your gaze on the future. New house = new life = new adventure.
Just, do us a favor? Plan ahead to preserve your sanity: next time, choose a place with less grass!