Saying Goodbye to Home.
I’ve just spent the whole weekend surrounded by my family at my childhood home, where we gathered to say goodbye to our family home of over 40 years.
We shared memories, stories, laughter, sweat (thanks to moving ALL THE THINGS out of the attic & basement!) and lots of tears.
I’ve always thought of our house as a She. Is that weird? I don’t know why, but She always seemed appropriate. She was strong, withstood storms, and was a beast at 3 stories high. She was built in 1898 and weathered decades of weather, wear-n-tear and SO MANY renovations (ask me how old I was when I learned how to use a paint stripper or help hang wallpaper).
What is it that makes a home so special? Why am I crying over a house, people?! It oddly feels like the loss of my childhood.
A house is just a work of architecture, walls, floor and roof. But in that house is so much more. It holds rooms that hold memories, laughter, stories, tears, life events—big and small.
I learned to crawl up stairs in that home. In fact, I can still remember the brown and yellow shag carpet that covered the whole downstairs in the 70s. And those same stairs, I walked down in my new, twirly Easter dresses as a little girl, to my prom dress as a Senior in high school. It’s those stairs where my oldest son, Ben, would play for hours with his mini John Deere tractors as a toddler on the landing. And the stairs where we’d stand on the 3rd floor, lean over the bannister and drop parachute men, Barbie dolls—you name it, it was thrown.
It’s where I learned to ride my banana seat bike without hands, and even rode down the driveway onto Main Street when my parents weren’t looking! And the same driveway, where I stepped on a piece of glass as a 5-year-old, that sent me to the ER to get stitches for the first time.
It’s in the backyard, where my brothers and I would spend hours building forts made of lawn chairs, towels and yard tools. And where we’d gather to watch my brothers both have weddings years later in the flower gardens, as well as friends’ & other family members weddings.
It’s on the front porch where I spent the majority of the summer before my Senior year, because I was grounded from an unfortunate answering machine incident (that’s another story…) and my friends could only visit me there. And it’s where friends & family would gather each summer to watch the town’s Fair parade. Where my Mom and her friends would all make homemade ice cream and we’d sit for hours on the porch eating, talking and swatting away the mosquitos into the evening.
It’s my bedroom window seat, where my brothers and I would use it as a stage for performing countless plays and shows that we’d force our parents to watch, and they’d pretend they were actually good. And where I’d host slumber parties, and where I’d spend rainy afternoons reading a childhood fave like Anne of Green Gables. It’s also where I would write in my journal religiously, cry when my heart was broken the first time, and where I’d spend hours talking on the phone with friends. And the bedroom where I would be performing/dancing to “Material Girl”, brush in hand as my microphone, and the big finale was me jumping off my bed, causing the downstairs chandelier in the front parlor, right under my bedroom, to shake. This was the cause of a lot of hearing “SARAH ELIZABETH!!” yelled from my Mom and Dad…
It’s in the kitchen, where I’d watch my Mom work her culinary magic, whipping up her famous (and our faves!) Pecan Fettucini, Pasta Primavera, Chocolate Cake, Mrs. Fields cookies, and my kids’ fave—her French toast and “special cinnamon syrup”. And the same kitchen that she worked her tail off making elaborate, beautiful and amazing holiday dinners for family & friends. And it’s the breakfast nook where I LOVED to enjoy my coffee with my Mom in the early mornings before everyone was up, while watching the sunrise over their flower gardens.
It’s in the den/family room, where I celebrated 40 Christmas mornings in a row. Because once I married, we lived in Indy and it just became more convenient to spend Christmas at my parent’s home. And so my kids got to have Santa deliver presents there as well, thus continuing the tradition. It’s also in this room that I have so many precious childhood Christmas mornings that are still fresh in my mind. Like the one we got our dog, Sasha, and my brother couldn’t believe that “Santa can even make a dog!” And the year we got a Teddy Ruxpin and we just stared at it for hours in disbelief.
It’s the in dining room that hosted hundreds of dinners, get togethers, birthdays, wedding day brunches, cast parties for my Dad’s students, Christmas Open Houses and so on. It’s where we celebrated countless birthdays, including my three boys’, complete with Grandpa’s infamous yearly cakes—which my boys now expect him to make, even as they’re getting bigger.
It’s the back stairway (which was originally used as the maid’s stairway when the house was built in 1898), that was narrow but the wood stairs were slippery but which made for perfect sleeping bag sledding. (Please tell me you also did this as a kid, because it was awesome.)
And it’s the front porch steps where countless wedding, prom, reunion & family photos were taken. Where my cousin and I would skip up & down the stairs in our Sunday best, and pose for Easter photos, complete with our white gloves and Easter baskets full of plastic green grass and colored eggs. And the same steps we took dozens of photos today as we said our goodbye to our home.
My kids have blessed me this weekend, because they’ve shown their own vulnerability and worn their hearts on their sleeves as well. When we were pulling out of the driveway for the last time, the tears began (or continued!), and the car fell silent. We were heartbroken, and I know why. It’s a special place. A place we all hold dear for more reasons I can count. But mostly, it’s a place that was safe, an anchor, a constant in the chaos of life.
Though an emotional weekend, it was also exactly what I think I needed in order to accept the selling of the house. Right before we left for the last time, I took some time to walk through the house. I went through each room and occasionally put my hand to the wall, as if I was telling Her, “Thanks for the memories. For making me feel safe. For giving us a place to live, love, grow, learn, share, laugh, cry, dance, sing, and a place to BE LOVED.”
I’ll miss a lot about 505 North Main Street.
But the one thing I know, is that while I’m grateful for all of the years and times spent in that home, I’m even more grateful for the PEOPLE I’ve been blessed to be surrounded with IN that home. And I can’t wait to make new memories, create new stories and celebrate ALL THE THINGS in our homes to come.
Goodbye old girl. You are so Loved, appreciated and will be treasured forever by this Bundy crew.
Our last day at 505 North Main St.