Thursday, November 15, 2007

Their home isn't my home

I met my sister and parents yesterday. We had great Italian pizzas (thin crusts and mozzarella cheese, baked in stone ovens and with exciting toppings) before going to my parents' new apartment for a cup of coffee (and a cup of tea for me). My parents bought an apartment earlier this fall and have spent the last month working on it; totally redoing the kitchen, painting all the walls and the ceiling in all the rooms, permanently turning a doorhole into a solid wall... It's turning out great!!!

It feels kind of strange thinking that this beautiful apartment will be my parents' home for real in a couple of weeks. Up until seeing the place yesterday it's sort of just been a "project" for me; something my parents do to keep busy. Now it's starting to get settled in me, the realization that when my parents talk about going home, it won't be the home I'm used to. It won't be the home that partly belongs to me. That is part of my life. Or my siblings' lives. This will be my parents' home. And just theirs.

In a week or two I'll help with "the big clean up" of the old apartment, and that will be the last time I'll ever see it from the inside. It will be somebody else's home. A couple in their forties with an 8-year-old will move in. I was nine when we moved there. My brother was a couple of years younger and my sister had just started walking.

I love that place. My parents' have really invested money and time in turning it into something special. To a lot of people it's just a rental, not a real home but not to my family. The fact that my parents didn't own the apartment didn't keep them from turning it into our home. They redecorated the bathrooms, completely blew out the kitchen and put a new one in, put in wooden floors in the whole apartment except for the entry hallway that got a funky checkered white and black vinyl floor, painted all the rooms regularly, tore down parts of the outer wall and built a huge balcony... The place looks much better now after them living there for 21 years than it did when they moved in.

And that's where I grew up. Fights with my brother and sister. Endless hours of homework in my room. My first attempts at making pancakes. Getting found out to have been shoplifting in a toy store and being forced, by my mother, to go back to return the things while everyone in line saw and heard me apologize. All the nights I read far too long and didn't get enough sleep. Scaring my sister half to death when I acted as the family's Santa. My first experience with death when my "grandfather" died. Endless hours on the phone talking to friends. My first period (that happened to come on a day when I had had a huge fight with my mother and was so angry with her that I forbid her to go with me to buy pads). Sleepless nights because of growing pains in my back and knees. My first Valentine's card ever (from an American guy I had a crush on). My first time staying at home on my own when the rest of the family was away on vacation. Starting my first diary. Sleep overs with friends. My first sexual experience. My first hair perm. Hours and hours of reading out loud to my sister or having her read out loud to me. Taking care of my budgie. My high school graduation party.

When I started University, I decided to move to my own apartment after a year. I then lived 7 minutes by bike from my parents and siblings. Far enough to have my own life, but not far enough to be unconvenient when my fridge was empty. I could always come and go as I pleased. And I did. Sure, as soon as I moved out, my sister took my room, and I didn't really have anything in the apartment that was mine. Except for memories. And as the years passed, I spent less and less time there. My brother moved out and my sister changed rooms again. The summer after that, I lived in my old room for a couple of months as I was fighting a depression and wasn't brave enough to live on my own. I needed the security of company and comfort. Needed to hear familiar sounds outside my door when I woke up in the mornings and when I went to bed at night. That was my last time actually living in the apartment. 4½ years ago.

And now my parents are leaving that apartment behind. Moving on to something new. Something that suits them better. My mother has been talking about the move for years now. When you kids have all moved out, we won't need this much space. Last year when my parents started to seriously look for a new apartment I was the one out of us siblings who applauded them the most. Who told them what a sensible thing it was. Who told my brother to stop being so selfish when I heard him trying to keep our parents in the apartment by being sentimental.

Now the move is here. And it's time to say goodbye. And I'm way more sentimental than I thought I'd be. (But I'm not telling my sibling that...)

I know this move is the smartest thing my parents have done in a long time. And I love their new apartment. It will look wonderful when it's all finished and they have moved their furniture in. When they have their art up on the wall and their books are in the shelves. It's an amazing apartment. The house was built in the '20s. The ceiling is 3m/10feet up and is curved where it meets the walls. There's a stucco rose in the middle of the ceiling in the two main rooms. There's a 20cm/8in border on the walls down by the floors. There's a bay/oriel window in the dining room and all the windows in the apartment has horisontal and vertical bars in them. The floors are all wooden and old. The kitchen has an old pantry in it. It's an amazing apartment and I'm so happy for my parents.

It's just strange knowing that soon their home won't be my home anymore.


Archiknist said...

My parents still live where I grew up, and aren't really thinking about moving (although logical me wishes they would--the house is big and hard to keep up and I think they would be happier not having to worry about it... although it's not really my business to decide that for them), but till now I hadn't really thought about the fact that them moving would mean they wouldn't live where everything I remember happened. Thanks for making me think!

(Also, I'm reassured to hear that you survived malaria!)

Kate said...

Oh, Anna! I'm so sorry! I know I would feel exactly the same way if my parents decided to move...they live in the house that I lived in from age 2 to 22. It's so hard when your head knows something is right, but in your gut, it just feels wrong.

Anna said...

Thank you girls! It's nice to know you don't find me too sentimental or silly.

I'm actually surprised at how strange this feels. I usually listen very much to the logical side of myself but here I don't seem to hear it as well as normally...

Jen said...

Aww! :hugs: My parents did that to me when I went away to college. It was so disconcerting!

You really are a beautiful writer, Anna. Do you hear that often enough? You have a gift for this. :muah:

Anna said...

Thank you Jen! :kram: :muah:

essjay said...

We moved in 1989 to a new house, so I had to give up my childhood home, but my parents gave up a house they BUILT from the ground up, together. There are pictures of me, in my stroller at the building site. My parents moved again in 2000. I was done with school, and on my own but it will still hard to walk out the door of that house one last time. Of course, I love my parents new house and it is the perfect place for them....but I've come to realize that my home is now with my husband and I'm always welcome at my parents house, but it isn't "home" any more. What a shift into adulthood.