my parents moved out last weekend, and the official closing is only days away.
it's a strange thing, picturing it empty again.
i keep finding myself thinking back to the beginning, when it was empty for the first time.
we slept in sleeping bags on the floor in our new rooms the night of the closing. because we could. because it was ours.
the house was empty, but we were so full and ready to overflow into it.
it was summertime, almost exactly sixteen years ago.
i remember i had an ear infection, which meant i felt crummy but also angry because how cruel that i had my own pool and could barely even swim in it.
i remember waking up in our old apartment, putting in ear drops while laying on the couch, driving over to our new house, and napping on the hardwood floor in the living room.
(i don't remember why, but there was a gap between when it was ours and when we moved in. house projects? painting? i was eight, and we had a pool, so...)
i remember the chandelier that hung low in the dining room, especially without a table to prevent people from walking into it, and the way the lights would dance on the walls whenever somebody inevitably did (more than once).
i remember eating pizza from the place just down the road and learning the hard way that it was worth the extra few minutes it took to get better pizza.
i remember standing at the top of the stairs, after we were all moved in, and trying to imagine what that house would feel like when it finally felt like home.
i remember waiting for a moment where it would suddenly hit me. instead, it happened slowly, and without me realizing it.
i remember when my mom would go out to run errands and joke about how she was going into town, because our new house was fifteen minutes to the closest ...anything.
i remember how quickly we stopped making that joke because, seriously, that fifteen+ minute commute was the new normal.
i remember sharing a room with T and always being annoyed at how messy her side of the room (and the dresser) always were, and the way she'd roll her eyes at me whenever i'd ask her to clean it up so i could vacuum the carpet.
i remember how it felt strange to not be sharing a room with J anymore, and how we'd knock on the wall using our own made-up version of morse code. one knock means hi, two knocks means meet me in the hallway, three knocks means i want to go to sleep.
i remember the way H used to arrange and rearrange her room, paint her walls bright and bold colors, and finish them off with watercolor painted flowers and stickers, like she was trying to prove her creativity couldn't be contained in that tiny, box-sized room.
i remember how excited we got whenever a snow plow would drive down our street that first winter. "the plow! the plow!" and we'd run to the living room, sit on our knees on the couch, and watch it drive by.
i remember standing in front of the window in the dining room when it snowed, because that view of the flakes falling and coating the bare trees and grass in white icing was the most beautiful.
i remember summer vacations and the "good morning!" notes my mom would leave on the counter, full of exclamation points and smiley faces and a "love ya" at the end–to make up for the list of chores she also had listed.
i remember having every kind of diving board competition we could think of. farthest jump, highest jump, biggest splash, smallest splash, the most creative way to go from the diving board into the pool. jumping, falling, pretending to be reading while walking ...straight into the water.
i remember having handstand competitions in the shallow end (because, let's be real, handstands in water that comes up to your waist is the only kind of handstands we could do). and, of course, there were swimming competitions and who can hold their breath the longest competitions and guess which song i'm singing underwater where my voice sounds like a chipmunk competitions.
i remember the time my dad decided to take it upon himself to cut down a tree (by himself) by the pool area, not realizing it was rotten on the inside, and having half the tree fall where he wanted it to and the other half fall ...right into the pool.
i remember the way my mom took me and the two dogs (aka, everyone in the house) outside and up the street because she was convinced that the tree would fall on the house.
i remember the time my dad re-did the upstairs of the house and listening to nothing but that one johnny cash compilation album like it was the only thing fueling his motivation to continue painting.
i remember the days when my parents' room had the only air conditioning in the house, and the way we would go "visit dad" (whether he was in there or not) because we just wanted the cool air.
i remember when i finally got air conditioning AND cable access in my room within the same week and it was the only thing i wanted to talk about to anyone who would listen.
i remember when i finally got my own room, and then a couple years later when T started sharing it with me again because she found a mouse in her room.
i remember what it felt like to pack up my room (and realize exactly how much junk i had stored in such a small space) and load it into my car.
i remember what it felt like to drive away the morning i moved, knowing i would never live in that house again, or even within (reasonable) driving distance from it.
i remember what it felt like the first time i went back to visit and seeing the way my room wasn't my room anymore. the way the whole house didn't feel like my house anymore.
it feels like another one of those childhood things you let go of but think your parents should still hold on to.
like that box of rocks they found in the storage space below the stairs. (is it weird that i used to collect rocks? or that i was only half joking when i told my mom i didn't want her to get rid of them?)
these things and these places have a piece of you, and it's strange to just let them go.
i don't have an emotional attachment to the house itself. (well, except to maybe the pool. i so miss having my own pool. summers are not the same when you can't wake up, put on a bathing suit, and tan next to your own private pool.)
but it's where we grew up and made memories and changed and learned how to dream.
and now it's someone else's turn.