Empty Rooms, Aching Hearts

by Samantha on November 30, 2010

Empty Room

Empty, my house is empty.  Actually, as of yesterday, it’s not even my house anymore. It’s someone else’s house, and soon it will be full again, with their furniture, pictures, and knickknacks, with their laughter and music. This is the third time I’ve left a house behind, and I thought it would be easy. I only lived in this house for two years before heading off to college, and sporadically after that. But, what I realized, as I packed boxes and watched the movers carry out every last item, was that this might be the toughest house to leave.

The house itself was nice, with plenty of space, but it’s not the physical structure that I’ll miss. Every room, even when empty, was full of memories. That house played host to many a sleepover, birthday celebration and Israel trip meeting. It was where Rob and I first said, “I love you,” where we toasted our engagement with family and friends, where I studied for my road test and AP exams.  But, it wasn’t all good memories there.  It was at the kitchen table that my parents told me they were getting separated. The living room held a minyan to mourn the passings of each of three grandparents. Many times, I sat on the carpeted floors to nurse a broken heart, or stared at myself in the mirror trying to feel beautiful.

Closing the door on each empty room was symbolic of the significance this move has in our lives. It’s about a fresh start, moving on, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. As I watched my mom cry while we took the mezuzah off of the front door, and fought back tears myself, I was reminded that we’re moving on as a broken family.  Something I never, ever thought we would be. The irrational part of me wanted to open all the doors and put everything back in its place, thinking maybe this would make things right. But, in reality I know that will never happen. The past few years have taught me that I’m stronger than I realized. I’ve also learned that it takes a while to heal. Sometimes life hands you lemons. Even if you take the high road and choose to make lemonade, it might taste a little sour at first. But, you’ll find the sweetness eventually.

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  • Anonymous

    I’ve left at least 13 homes, maybe 17 if you count some of the same-city apartments. As a kid, each time we packed up, I would like to think I always saw it as an adventure, but I’m sure I was always a little upset. At some point however, I got sad about the places I left, not the homes themselves. I think it’s because of the people who I would miss or my favorite restaurants. I think home for me has become about the relationships, not always the location. But it took a lot of good-byes to understand that…

  • http://www.suburbansweetheart.com/ Suburban Sweetheart

    I dread the day my mom moves out of my childhood home, & not just because it’ll probably take years to pack everything. This was a beautiful little tribute to your home & your family & your memories & your past.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    Aw….so heart wrenching :(

    I loved the way you wrote this and I understand how hard it is to let go of things like this. It isn’t easy, at all.

    Sending lots of good ju-ju your way in moving forward and not forgetting the past, but loving what is now :)

  • http://twentyorsomething.com Susan Pogorzelski

    It’s amazing, the memories that can be stored within four walls, even for a short period of time, even if they’re a mix of the good and the bad. The fact of the matter is that this was your home for no matter how long and memories were made here, and that’s never an easy thing to let go of. While you have a new home, while this is a great move for your mom, you were still a family here — and while you say you’re a bit broken, you really still are a family — and this house was as much a part of your life as any person or thing could be.

    I don’t think we give the places we live enough credit — I think they are a part of us just as anything else in our life, shaping us, providing comfort, providing shelter not just from the elements, but from the emotions and moments in which life catches us. I can’t ever blame you for feeling a mix of emotions here, Sam — to want to imprint on your memory where each piece of furniture stood, where each laugh was laughed, and to forget where each tear was shed. But carry that with you — carry all of it with you — because it has made you into the beautiful, brave, strong person you are today.

    And just think — while that empty room might feel like it’s left an empty place in your heart, it’s really just another chance to fill that space back up.

    Love and hugs to you.

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com sameve

    Wow, that’s a lot of homes! My total would at least double if I included college. You make a great point about missing the places, not the homes themselves. There’s definitely some wisdom to the saying that “home is where the heart is.” When it comes down to it, a house is just a structure. What matters are the people and the memories. Thanks for sharing your insight!

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com sameve

    Ha, yeah…I was out there every weekend in November. If I don’t see a cardboard box for a while, I’ll be VERY happy! Thanks so much for your kind words about the post. This one really came from the heart.

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com sameve

    Thanks, Grace. I think this post was forming in my head all weekend. I’m not always the best at talking about how I feel, but writing about it comes easy. Thank you for the good ju-ju :) I’m all for moving forward and enjoying the present.

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com sameve

    You’re so right, Susan. The good and the bad memories are all a part of me. They don’t define me completely, but they are a large part of who I have become. In the long run, leaving that house behind is a good thing. It’s a much needed fresh start for everyone. Even though those rooms are empty, there will be new ones to fill. Always love your eloquent insight, thank you :)

  • Anonymous

    This is beautiful, and I can definitely relate. My parents moved out of my childhood home this year, and rented it out to some people I’ve never met. I live across an ocean in China, and packed up a few boxes of my own heirlooms when I was home last Christmas, but I was not there to take any photos like this. My bedroom was that exact color (well, actually a tad darker and more purple, but very similar) and for the new tenants it was painted a neutral off-white. I wrote a similar post about home, inspired by the wonderful Grace Boyle. Here’s the link: http://www.leslieforman.com/?s=places+i%27ve+called+home Wishing you all the happiness in the world!

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