the house that built me / by Carey Pace

"You turned out to be so much more sentimental than I ever thought you would be in high school," he said to me on Sunday. 

“But I’m not sentimental about THINGS!” I insist. “I don’t care about things. I’m not attached to things!” I feel the contradiction as I speak it, for this house and this yard — they are things. Yet somehow, it feels different.

“You didn’t feel this way when we left the Ridgefields house,” he half states and half asks, trying to make sense of the paradox that I am, trying desperately to fix my sorrow. 

“Yes I did! But no, I didn’t. Oh, I didn’t want to leave that house. There were things about that house I loved so much and hated to leave. But this is altogether different,” I stammer, trying to process everything all at once. 

Then a thought begins to shift into focus in my mind. “Perhaps I feel this way so very intensely right now because, for the first time in my life, I’m leaving a place where I’ve had nothing but good happen to me.”

Here on Windmere is where I became who I AM. It has been here at Windmere where I finally grew up. It was here where we became a family. Even though we brought The Boy home to the Ridgefields house for 4 short months, it was here where we learned what being parents was going to ask of us, both individually and as a team. It was here that we became pregnant with The Lady as soon as we tried. It was here where they had every milestone. I’ve baked birthday cakes here. I’ve read them stories here. We have crafted and drawn and colored and learned all right here. Here was where we battled the fierce will of The mighty Lady and I was forced to realize one more time in life, I am never enough in my own strength. 

Here where I let myself truly be the creative-type I am. Here I allowed myself to write and share what I wrote with the world. Here I found the outlet of photography and have clawed my way to honing that skill so I can share the beauty I see in this world with others. This life is so stunningly beautiful and I want you all to SEE it. 

Here is where everything has happened to me. 

That song by Miranda Lambert says: 
I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
this brokenness inside me might start healing.
Out here its like I'm someone else,
I thought that maybe I could find myself
if I could just come in I swear I'll leave.
Won't take nothing but a memory
from the house that built me.

The song is about her childhood home. But the song seeps into my soul like water filling a pitcher, because this house around me at this moment is so very much the House that Built Me. 

In a few moments, I will shut down my computer and pack it in its pretty box. I have avoided doing it, but I cannot put it off any longer. For some reason, I think it feels like it is my last finger holding onto the edge of a building, keeping me from plummeting to the ground. I don’t want to let go, but gravity is overcoming my weakness. To turn this off and turn away from my Art Room, where I create and spend so much time, is a pivotal moment. This is really happening. 

In a few hours I will drive to Virginia, and we will close on a new house. 

I told him on Sunday that I remember feeling a sense of “this is it! THIS is the right house for us. This is going to be good.” when we viewed the house we’re moving to. But it has been two months and I cannot conjure that feeling in my chest any more. For now I only feel an immense sense of loss and foreboding, venturing into an unknown world. I know it’s going to be okay, in my mind, but my heart is broken. I wanted this move for him, and for the adventure it represents for our family. I know it will be a good thing for all four of us. But the reality of walking away from the house that built me feels more than I can do. 

A friend gave me the analogy of a bandaid. She told me that these last many months have been the slow pull of a bandaid. It hurts, and stings, as the adhesive lets go one infinitesimal bit by bit. It’s long and drawn out and painful. But by nature of the situation, it is only now that the bandaid is finally getting ripped off. And with its final removal will come release and healing. 

He had a final walk through in the house last night. He told me that the lady who owns it now is having just as hard a time leaving it as I am leaving this one, for the very same reasons. He said with memory fresh of the new walls, “you are going to LOVE this house.” He knows me. He knows what is important to me. And I trust him. I am trusting that over the hill of the unknown we are still a family. We will still be together. And perhaps this new house will continue to build me.