}

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

At the old house

I went to the old house three times in the past week to get the last of the stuff I’d left behind. Each time I went I felt different about the place than I’d felt before, and not just because the last two times I was alone: It was because I’m alone all the time.

I realised I felt a little sad about saying goodbye to the house—but little is the important word there: Mostly I felt empty, because the house felt empty, even though it was still staged until yesterday afternoon.

I needed to clear out the garden shed so I could bring the stuff back to Hamilton before settlement on Friday. I have everything out now (including the gas bottle for the BBQ; the movers won’t take gas bottles, and I’d left that one up on the deck). I have one more, final, trip to the house before it’s no longer mine on Friday: I go up to Auckland tomorrow to sign the settlement paperwork at my solicitor’s office, then on the way home I’ll swing by the house and do a last walk though to make sure there’s absolutely nothing left behind. It’s unlikely there will be anything there, but checking will give me some peace of mind. Mostly, it’ll give me the chance to say a final goodbye to the house and the life I had there.

I took a wander through it on Sunday, as I’ve always done when I’ve gone back (mostly to check that everything’s okay—I still own it, after all), and then I videoed a walk through the house. Originally, that video was just so I could show folks in the family the full context of how the staging looked. But as I walked through it, I realised it would be one of the last times I’d ever be there, and I also realised there will inevitably come a time I won’t accurately remember the layout. I could look at the video to remember, but the reality is, I probably never will.

That house was, as I’ve said before, one Nigel wanted in an area he loved, but it makes me sad that I never really felt what he did for that house or area. I wish I’d talked to him about that at the time so we could have worked it out together, but I wanted him to be happy, so I said nothing and tried to swallow my unhappiness. He saw through that, but was also silent. I know all this because we really did talk about everything in Nigel’s final days.

Even so, that house represents what was for a time a very happy place for us both because there was a feeling that Nigel and I definitely did share: We were happy there because we were together and with and our furbabies. That’s no small thing!

As I wandered the house on Sunday, I pictured our furbabies. I could visualise them lying in a spot somewhere, or running around, all of that. I had similar remembrances about spots in the house that were about Nigel, but I didn’t visualise him in those spots, in part because I can’t picture us in the house as clearly as I could before I moved out, and the furbabies are with me every day. That makes sense: Nigel left six months ago, and I left there nearly two months ago.

So, I felt a little sad about leaving our last home together, but I also felt empty because it stopped being our house months ago, and there’s almost nothing of us left there. Daily life is finally catching up with that reality.

I feel so conflicted about the house because, even though I didn’t love it, I loved Nigel, our little family, and our home together. My life now feels so empty, a bit like that house. The last three times I was there, it had all the stuff that made it look filled with life when, in fact, it was an empty imitation of life. Just like me.

It was different the last few times I was there because I’m alone all the time, and for me, that house is alone and empty, too. A few days from now, it’ll be gone from my life, and that’ll be a really good thing. When that happens, I know I’ll feel a little sad, but I’ll mostly feel empty.

Good riddance—and welcome to whatever comes next.

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