Our house is officially for sale. We have spent the last two and a half weeks clearing, purging and cleaning. Recycling, shredding and donating. Collecting, sorting and giving away. Patching, repainting and rearranging.
It’s now cleaner, feels bigger and repairs needed a long time ago have been done – for another family. Our personal photos have been put away. Artwork that is too colourful – or too dark – is off the walls. Our red wall in the dining room is now boring beige. Our home is now a house.
However, thanks to our sentimental tendencies to keep too much, we were able to relive some of our 24-plus years in this house.
We’ve laughed at photos of our twenty-somethings-first-house décor, like the white patio furniture that was our dining table until we could afford a ‘real’ set. Our sofa was a futon for years, until we walked into a local furniture store and told them we wanted a grown-up living room.
Making it Ours
Those early photos of the house show the way things were before our elbow grease made it ours. We removed wallpaper from the kitchen, bedrooms and bathroom. Weeks of scraping the walls after work (under three layers of wallpaper!) we found a hideous colour of paint. And I can’t forget how good it felt to replace the green curtains with pom-pom-trim in the kitchen!
The pictures reminded us that we have grown up here. We had the chance to relive these memories once again, in the same space they happened. Visits from Mom and Dad, both who have passed on. My mother in law Sandy and late father in law Joe, visiting for Christmas. Operation Hedge Removal in the back yard, headed up by my dad and a helpful dog.
There are smaller events in life that we forget as the years slip by. Important at the time, they involved lots of planning and coordination. Now they blend together, details fuzzy, forming the thread of memories that make up home. Our home.
This process of erasing ourselves from the space – taking down personal photos and art; junking treasured (but damaged) furniture; and donating clothing, linens and books is necessary. Necessary but not easy. It’s tiring physically, mentally and emotionally.
Before the process started, I hadn’t realized that this work serves a purpose beyond getting the house ready for sale. It has helped us process our memories and let go of the what we’re leaving behind. But it hasn’t helped us let go from the who.