I almost avoided this week's Red Room theme because there were a number of possibilities I could write about on the subject of "Saying Goodbye" and couldn't decide which one to give precedence. Yet since the topic appeared in my email queue, I couldn't help but think of the Beatles' song and have been continuously singing, "You say goodbye and I say hello," which aptly describes how it felt when I moved back into the house my ex and I had to sell in 2002 due to our divorce agreement. Hmm, I think I found my topic.
It was a gloomy day in February when I shut the front porch door behind me for what I thought would be the last time. At that instant, I refused to cry, wanting to be strong for my kids. Granted, they were no longer children, since my son had already graduated college while his sisters were just beginning, but it didn't mean their foundation hadn't crumbled. What I didn't realize then was that I was numb and on autopilot. I went through the motions of leaving my home without allowing myself to say goodbye to it. It would be over five years later when I discovered just what I'd left behind.
I was doing a book signing at a street festival in my old hometown, a few blocks from what had been home to me for over fifteen years. During those five years, I'd gone from living in an upstairs apartment where the downstairs neighbor was, well, let's just say, unneighborly, to buying a small Cape Cod. I didn't realize just how miserable I was until my former neighbors saw me at the festival and dashed over, pulling me into a hug. That's when they told me that the sweet couple who'd bought the house from my ex and me would be selling it in the spring. Without skipping a beat, and surprising myself, I said, "I want it back."
There were those who wondered why I would want to move back to a place where the memories from the last few years were less than wonderful. I wasn't even sure, until I returned to find that the doorknocker with Hoenig scrolled across it was still on the door; Scout and Shiloh's names were scrawled in the cement in the dog run and the letter "H" remained proudly displayed on the cupola on the roof of the cottage in the backyard. The sweet couple never removed our mark, telling me that they never felt right doing so. They also said that they never felt as though the house belonged to them. I knew what they meant, since for the last five years, I'd felt as a wanderer without roots.
However, in spite of it having been during one of the worst times to sell a house, I managed to sell my Cape Cod in order to buy back my roomier Dutch Colonial.
That day five years earlier when I walked out of the house, I said goodbye to the anger and disappointment of a failed marriage, but never to the house that had been home. Yet when I returned those few years later, I put the key into the front door, determined to do justice to making that house a home, where fists would never punch holes through the walls again and where the noises would no longer be from rage and frustration, but from laughter and music.
It will be a year October 4th that I'd gone to closing, and I've kept my word, grateful that I could never really say goodbye.
(To read more about this venture, go here: www.huffingtonpost.com/carol-hoenig/getting-back-home-prologu_b_70144.html -