by Tess Hensley
I’d lived in the same house since I was two. At 21, they put it up for sale. I got sent home from college in March, and by the end of the month, our house was on Zillow. We wiped the doorknobs and light switches with Lysol wipes after each showing. Our walls became eerily empty because we were supposed to make it look like no one lived there, and it felt like the evidence of our family ever living there was about to be erased. I took Zoom classes in-between the random people walking through our home, deciding if it was worthy of their family.
I became increasingly nostalgic, partly because my bedroom was still just the same as it was in high school, and simultaneously having to pack it all away. I would look out the window and see my great grandmother’s roses and the lilacs that I looked forward to blooming every year. I saw the long driveway that I walked down every afternoon when the school bus dropped me off. I saw the pool that hosted all my summer pool parties with friends.
In April, the house was under contract. In mid-May, our entire lives fit in two big moving trucks and we drove two hours to our new home across state lines. I was trying not to cry all the time, my Mother was trying not to be disgusted and angry at the state the unfinished house was in, and my Dad was seemingly fine, joking with the movers who were kind enough to put our beds together.
While many in quarantine could say they felt like time stood still, or even went backward, my time was accelerating ahead, without my consent. One minute, I was in college. The next, I didn’t even have my home. I couldn’t control it and no matter how much I wished it would stop, things kept moving forward faster and faster.
The new house that my parents bought is still a work in progress, but slowly, it’s made a place in our hearts. We’ve planted new flowers and trees. Pictures have been hung. New paint is on the walls. We brought out our Halloween decorations from the old house and smiled, like really smiled, and didn’t tear up thinking about the old house.
I know it’s silly to get attached to little things, but it’s the memories those four walls held that pulls at your emotions. I remember walking down the stairs in my graduation gown, all the naps I took on the sofa in the living room, every family meal we shared in our kitchen. When the pandemic began, I realized I didn’t have to rush the process; I could feel everything in an unlimited amount of time. Quarantine gave me the time to appreciate that home and give it a proper goodbye, a thank you for everything it had given me, and for that I’m grateful.