The excitement around the new house is high. Our whole family has been energized. The kids are excited to clean and contribute to their new home. Nicole is finally going to have studio space of her own. Lincoln will get the tower bedroom he’s always wanted. We’ll have new neighbors, enough projects to keep us busy for years, and lots of new experiences and friendships.

But right now, I’m sitting home alone. Home. My house. The one I bought in 2004. The one that represented the culmination of my adult working life, my hopes and dreams with my then-wife. The place I bought to raise my kids in and get a little bit older in. In 2004, life looked very different, and I would not have even been able to imagine what twists and turns my life was about to take.

It’s easy to leave this place, at least on paper. The mortgage is insanely upside-down. The neighborhood has been rife with foreclosures. Real estate values are less than half of what they used to be here. The house has all kinds of problems, from flooding to a leaky pond, to a broken dishwasher. We could stand new plumbing. It’s horribly insulated. We need a new stove. There may very well be foundational issues. We need new siding. The garage window is broken.

But this is also the house that was once our dream house. The backyard (which is what sold the place) is still a paradise. The gorgeous pond, full of fish, is a jewel. The house is big enough, even for our crazy big extended family. The kitchen island counter has been the anchor of an entire online community—hosting late night conversations, laughter, tears, countless photos, and tons of wonderful treats made by friends from all over the globe. It’s always 12:42 at ICHQ.

Sometimes it seems like nobody else cares, and I can’t really blame them. To Nicole, this was never “her” place, and I can’t blame her for feeling like that. She loved me enough to move in here, even though the house was another woman’s in the past. To Lincoln, this was something that he tried to make happen, but the numbers just didn’t pan out—and besides, why continue to dump money into someone else’s asset? If it wasn’t for him, we would have lost this place long ago, but in the end it still just doesn’t make sense. He made a good go of it, but it was always still “my” house.

The boys grew up here, but they share a bedroom. They’re at an age where privacy is becoming a requirement. We could always have gone the “one of you gets the basement” route, but then again, the basement floods, and nobody really wanted to be down there anyway.  The idea of each of them having their own large bedroom is enough for them to overcome sentimental attachment.

It’s entirely possible that I am more excited about moving to Detroit than anybody else in our family. It’s been a dream of mine for years, and it represents a homecoming for me. Still, I am giving up the last vestiges of my old life to do it. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.

When we move to Detroit, I am no longer a homeowner. I will have shed the last anchor from my past around my neck—the biggest one. I suppose I should take solace in the shedding of attachments—after all, I am a Buddhist and this is what I’ve been taught to do, but that doesn’t make it easy.

When we leave this house for the last time, turn the water off, throw the breakers, and shut the door behind us, I may be the only one that’s not smiling.

In 2007, my ex-wife moved out. I was terribly lonely, even though I was surrounded by friends. I never thought the house could feel more lonely than that day.

I was wrong. It feels even lonelier right now.

11 thoughts on “Leaving

  1. I'm ready to help whenever you guys are in need.

    Should put together a calendar for projects so people know when the days are that they're best equipped to contribute.
  2. Nice article, Brian. We can only hope that in time, your new home will feel just as good as the old one.
  3. My best memories of the island counter in the kitchen was teaching Jokke about beer pong or covering it in case upon case of White Castle (and the feeding frenzies that ensued).

    Or falling asleep in one room only to have IC people move you while you slept, always fun.
  4. My best memories of the island counter in the kitchen was teaching Jokke about beer pong or covering it in case upon case of White Castle (and the feeding frenzies that ensued).
    Heh, I remember that. Good times.
  5. B,

    Well written. Glad I got an opportunity to spend sometime there for one of the early Short-Media LANs. I never expressed it but camping in your backyard in my tent reminded me of when I was a little kid and my folks let me and my brother spend the night outside. Sleeping outside for me has always been a magical experience and it was great to relive it even if I was in my late thirties.

    Thanks for the memories and here's to many more that are sure to happen in your new digs.

    I'll leave you with a simple word that was uttered by one Jerome Garcia, "Thrive". And I know you guys will.

  6. Things change; and it seems to me like the harder we cling to the past, the harder it is for us to move ahead into the future. Best to just shed the weight and let your heart fly free into tomorrow.
  7. Hi Brian, Fede here....
    You know, it feels like a wrench, but the English are the only people (who in their language) differentiate between a 'house' and a 'home'.
    You're leaving a house.
    You're taking your home, with you.
    a person can fall into the trap of becoming attached to attachment....
    you kinda remember all the great, wise and worthy platitudes Buddhism teaches about such matters, but part of you feels... I dunno.... 'entitled' to be attached. "Helldammit, this is my life I'm talking about! I deserve to be attached - it's my right!!"
    It almost feels as if by practising non-attachment, you're betraying your birthright....
    Well, Maybe the best thing to do is to just..... Sit.
    Be calm, be centred and bring your Mind home.
    as the saying goes, there is no better place than Here, there is no better time than Now.
    Here and Now is where Home is.
    Not bricks, not mortar, not geographic, not state, town or community-governed.
    where you are, is where you is.

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