When your parents sell your childhood home, have a drink and write about it.

“Are you sad about the house?” my mother asks in a faraway voice that has a pleading undercurrent equally torn between ‘I-don’t-want-to-be-the-one-who’s-caused-you-pain,’ and, ‘please-ask-me-the-same-question-because-I’m-devastated.’ I pause, mulling over my answer as if it’s a bitter piece of my dinner that I can’t quite swallow. Of course I’ll miss the house, I think, I grew up there! But I think of the fact that, little by little, the house I remember so fondly slipped away more and more each year. When  I was little, I would chip at the paint on the pole of the basketball hoop. The rust underneath was of no interest to me, but the oil slick rainbow of colors on that lead-filled, poisonous chipping paint was like treasure to me. I’d pick and peel away for what felt like hours, always in secret so my father didn’t catch me at it, and then I’d run it down the street to my hideaway in the trees where I’d bury my spoils. The house was like that paint. My first cat Milo, just six months older than me, lost his mind and attacked me on the stairs when I was 14. The old tree branch I would sit upon to watch the neighborhood dogs walk by was cut down when I was maybe 15. The basement I found solace in had its carpet ripped up and furniture removed when I was 18. Every few years I’d look around and find that, after the paint had chipped away, the house was mostly rust anyways. But it hurt to leave the shards behind. Of course it hurts to think that concrete evidence of 19 years of my life is gone. But instead of saying all of these things that I know will burn my mother like acid, I say, “Yes, of course I’m sad. But I’m ready for something new.”

[Written October 19th, 2016]

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