I pull the knobs on the Formica desktop that’s part of a built- in dresser and bookshelf. It’s where I used to do my homework. Remnants of my childhood surround me—photos, books, souvenirs, and other assorted memorabilia. I’m in my childhood bedroom, a room I shared with my sister.
It’s at this desk I wrote essays by hand, struggled with algebra and physics lab reports, completed French worksheets, and probably wrote countless notes to friends to pass during class the next day. I might have addressed Valentines, and birthday party invitations, and written thank you notes to my grandparents. I place my laptop down and plug it in.
It’s often said that when you return to the home you grew up, where your parents are, you revert to being their child and perhaps that recalcitrant teenager.
I try to visit my parents monthly. It’s about a three -hour drive from my house in New Jersey to theirs in Connecticut. I arrive in time for lunch, escort my mother on some errands, and then eat dinner. Sometimes in the evening we take in a movie or play Scrabble. Mostly, we watch a little television and knit. I usually return to my home by late afternoon the next day.
My visit this week however, kept us all up at night. After 49 years in the house, they realize they need to sell. The house and yard are too much to take care of. My mother needs to limit her driving and they live in a town, though scenic, is remote.
Already they’re having a tough time listening to the realtors who advise them to declutter.
“It’s lived in,” mom says.
“We’re selling it as is, “ adds dad.
And that’s that. It’s home. Loaded with memories of four children growing up. I got married in the living room after the tent erected outside toppled in a freak June hurricane. I sewed prom dresses here. I returned from working as a bus girl, late at night, reeking of cigarettes and greasy food. I played touch football on the lawn with friends. My children dug in the sand pile out back and helped mow the lawn on the big tractor. And so much more.
We’re not sure how long it will take to sell the house, or where they’ll move. Home will become more about where they are and less about this place. In the meantime, I’m going to start throwing out a few old magazines and newspapers.