By Carmelene Melanie Siani
I am moving to another state and I don’t know if I’ll be back. I didn’t want to leave though without saying goodbye or thanking you for all you’ve been since that day we first met.
You remember that day, don’t you?
I had told the man I was going to marry that I could never live in you. I said it was because I didn’t like your low ceilings and I didn’t like the closed shutters on your windows and I didn’t like all the plants in your yard that blocked the view of the mountains. “This is Tucson,” I’d said to him. “I want to be able to see the blue skies against the mountains.”
But I lied.
The real reason I didn’t want to live in you was because you were where he had lived with his late wife; the one he had been married to for 48 years, whose clothes were still in all the closets and whose dishes were still in all the cupboards and who had died in the bedroom down the hall that would be my same bedroom if I moved in.
I was afraid that I could never feel at home in you.
I was afraid that you would never feel like my house and that you would always belong to her. So, I lied.
Then one day something happened. You did something, House.
I was sweeping the floor and it was just you and me and nobody else around and you leaned down and whispered into my ear. “Why don’t you take another look,” you said softly. “Maybe you could change things so that you would end up feeling at home.”
I did take another look and later, when we tore down the walls and found the mold that was there you were happy and I was too. And when we opened up the kitchen so that the sun could shine right through into the living room, you liked the new light and I did too.
You and I both thought you looked much prettier with your ceilings raised and all the trees in your yard trimmed and the clear views of the mountains smiling down on you.
After that, I grew to love you, dear House.
I grew to love how quiet you were and how I could lay in my bed and watch the sun turn the leaves on the mesquite tree from green to gold. I grew to love the mourning doves cooing and playing together on the patio wall and I grew to love the statue of the Buddha meditating in the cactus garden.
And now House, I am sad at the thought of leaving you.
You are where my new marriage finally came to live; where I listened to all those Beethoven symphonies over again and where I watched all those operas on YouTube. You are where my husband and I cooked so many wonderful meals and tasted so many wonderful wines and laughed so many wonderful laughs.
You are even where the bedroom became a secret place of new love shared.
Most important though, House, you are where not only were your walls torn down, but mine were torn down as well. You are where we both opened up to light and to new ways of seeing things.
We did that together House, didn’t we?
Now, in parting, I step back and look at you, my heart full and not wanting to let go. I touch your walls with my fingertips as I walk through you, caressing you gently.
Some would say it’s silly to cry over leaving a house—it’s only a building. But you and I know better. You and I know that you are a keeper of stories, a witness to lives lived and a container for friendships made, memories stored, dreams dreamed and so much more.
How perfect you have been for it all, dear House. How perfect for the growth and for the change and for making a home.
And so, I say thank you, House, for your perfection.
I know that “I have lived in your grace and in the peace of your benediction” for all the years that we have been together.
Finally, I say goodbye to you, House. I have loved you too—and will never forget you.
Some of us think of our houses as real estate or as investments that will grow over time only to be sold for profits at some point down the road. We think of them as buildings or bricks and mortar and addresses to be found by that little yellow guy walking around on a Google map.
Others of us however—like Mark Twain—think of our houses as something entirely different.
“To us, our house was not unsentient matter — it had a heart, and a soul, and eyes to see us with; and approvals and solicitudes and deep sympathies; it was of us, and we were in its confidence, and lived in its grace and in the peace of its benediction.” ~ Twain
Editor: Dana Gornall