Ten years ago, I moved into this house.
He asked me to.
And it made perfect sense: The date nights had no beginning and no end, the goodbyes were prolonged with steamy make out sessions and my toothbrush had found a new home.
We couldn’t stay away from each other, living together was the natural, most viable option.
And while I was perfectly happy sharing a house with my best friend, I was happier sharing my life with my brand new man.
It was two months into our relationship when he gave me a key.
Into his house.
He made some sort of ceremony of it- like one would a marriage proposal. Except it wasn’t a proposal. It was a key. I would later discover that he had never given a key before. So maybe it wasn’t just a key, it was a covenant- less binding than a marriage but more significant than a practicality.
Three months later, many of my favourite outfits, all my lotions and potions and some of my gadgets were in this house.
But I hadn’t quite moved in yet. Still kept my old house- never slept there but kept paying the rent.
6 months later not much had changed.
Then it dawned on me that I was being idiotic, living here and paying rent there. My man was aware of this idiocy but didn’t point it out (because in the honeymoon stage, you don’t point out each others’ idiocies). So he gave me time, as much as I needed- and when I was ready, we had a conversation: I could use that rent money in other ways, I could buy stuff, save it, heck I could give it away- just not to some landlord.
Though the issue was hardly about the money-
It was about the change, the formalization of things if you will: This would be my official address after every night out on the town, after grueling days at work, on weekends. This is where I would be sleeping in when I needed to and setting my alarm clock every single morning. If my friends wanted to come over for a glass of wine or three, it would be here- I would never again have the option of inviting an ex or the guy friends who fancied me over for barbeques. My life was going to change and it was a little scary.
But I had to make a decision.
When the decision became public, all three of us – my man, my housemate and myself- were relieved. I was relieved because I had finally made a decision- and it had been a pain having to go back and forth for my stuff; my man because I had finally made a decision- and he could now lay official claim on me, my housemate because I had finally made a decision- and she could now find someone who pulled their weight around the house- apparently, paying rent alone is not pulling weight.
She found my replacement quickly- a little too quickly now that I think about it.
That was ten years ago.
And yet- 2006 doesn’t seem that long ago…
Until you came across a picture of Obama’s hair then and now or find an outfit you used to wear in 2006 or take an inventory of the people that have come, gone and stayed in your life- how they have changed- how you have changed.
But when you’re living it, it doesn’t seem that long- time really is the biggest joke on humanity.
I began to fully appreciate just how long ten years is when I started packing.
Yes, after ten years, I am leaving this house.
Moving is a bitch. The purging, the organizing, the transporting, there really is no other word to describe it…but you know what puts the itch in that bitch, it’s the change.
My goodness change is hard. I know I know, it’s a part of life but do we ever get used to it? I don’t know. I haven’t.
As I was going through stuff and deciding what is worth taking into my future with me, I realised just how much has happened in my life in the last ten years.
This house has seen the best and worst of me. There were, in this house, dark days. There were also bright days. In this house there was laughter and tears and fun and joy and sadness and pain. There was love. There was life.
And there was the accumulation of junk. Lots and lots of junk.
It’s when I get on a footstool to reach those hard to reach, forgotten top shelves and discover the shoebox with love notes or the carton box labelled ‘maternity’ that I begin to appreciate just how much has happened. It’s in the writing of this piece and remembering the days when my idiosyncrasies were at one time cute and later just plain annoying that I can fully appreciate just how much time has passed.
In this house, I lived a full life cycle and then some.
It’s sad to leave, painful to let go and difficult to accept change. Because I like familiarity. And routine. And order. Change is none of that. It’s disruptive. And strange. And uncertain. Change equates to the ending of something. I don’t like endings. Especially if the story was a decent one. I like sequels to great movies and second and third installments to well written books. I hated it when Breaking Bad ended and I want Game of Thrones to go on and on. Unless the story was sad, or uninteresting, or just plain bad, I hate endings. I am not neurotic, I’m not a coward. I just like stability.
But I also like beginnings. Words like clean slate and new chapter get me fired up.
I loved getting my appointment letter for my current job. I felt great waking up this morning. I love watching the sun rise. But more significantly, I loved that key handing ceremony that took place in this house ten years ago. If these were/are all beginnings, how bad can change really be?
Beginnings hold so much potential, a world of promises.
One of my favourite quotes (or rather one of the quotes that keep me going at times like these) is by T. S Eliiot (anyone know what the T.S stands for??):
What we call the beginning is often the end.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
I am one of those people that, after reading a quote like that; get’s boundlessly optimistic about life.
Yes, I hate endings and yes, I love beginnings. But Mr. Elliot has reassured me: The end is where we start from. What wisdom!
Now that I’m writing this, I’m starting to ask myself whether my sadness at leaving this house might be misplaced. The truth is, in this house, there have been plenty of endings and beginnings, plenty of change. I guess I just took it all for granted because this house was the constant where all the change happened. And now after ten years, it will no longer be there. Everything about it, including the key that was a crucial part of this journey will be a memory.
I suppose the real issue I should be dealing with in this time of change should be framed as a series of questions: what have I done with my life during the past ten years? Do I have any regrets? Given another chance, would I have done things differently? What memories do I want to make for myself over the next ten years?
Ten years is a long time, long enough that as I move onto the next chapter of my life, I am going to take some time to reflect.