Sunrise Sunset Staircase

Back in late December 2016, I had to do a final clean-out of my townhome -- my little post-divorce landing pad that ended up being home for nearly five years.   I'd been dreading it.  There was just so much to do at our new home, and I really did not feel like taking a few hours of that precious time away to clean out my old place -- all of my furniture and things were gone, and the house was just an empty shell needing its final clean before I handed over the keys.  It was something I had to do, so I sucked it up and went to my old empty home with an armful of cleaners, my vacuum cleaner and Pandora's Lionel Richie station at the ready.

I had, as is customary for me, an itemized plan of attack: first spackle the nail holes, then work my way up from the basement to the main floor and finally finish up on the third floor with the bedrooms and baths.  Once all the nail holes were filled in, and about 15 minutes into my cleaning frenzy, I became acutely aware of just why it became necessary, rather than a luxury, to hire my house-cleaner.  The basement was a pretty easy space to clean -- it held the kids' playroom and a small tv/game playing area, and of course my bike trainer.  So.many.hours. on that bike trainer back in 2014.  Basement - check.  Up a floor I went.  I cleaned the kitchen, and the fridge and oven and cabinets.  I cleaned the living room.  The fireplace.  Tried in vain one last time to get out that purple nail polish stain in the one spot on the carpet where my then-5 year old had a pedicure mishap.  Main floor - check.  Up the steps to my last floor - first my bedroom and then my bathroom, which used to have horrible wallpaper that I painstakingly took down and painted instead.  Then the kids' bathroom - check.  Then the kids' rooms - check.  And finally, after about 4 hours on a cold December morning, I was done. The list was checked off.  The to-dos were done.


I grabbed all of the cleaning supplies and threw them (literally - I literally threw them) in the car, along with the vacuum.  I took out the last few bags of trash.  I did one final walk through to make sure I had cleaned every nook and cranny, turned off all of the lights, and taken all of my things.  Check.  Only, instead of bounding down the stairs and heading out the door without looking back, I found myself looking around with tears in my eyes at my now empty home.  And home it was:  what was intended to be a temporary landing pad had become my home for over four years. 

It was a good place.  It was a necessary step in my new life.  I sat down on the main staircase and remembered doing the exact same thing in the exact same spot right after I signed my lease.  I remember I was there on a weekday afternoon in April 2012 waiting for the cable people to come and for whatever reason, at that moment, sitting there on the grey carpeted steps of a completely empty home made my whole situation real: this is your home, this is happening, this is yours - yours, singular, yours.  It was overwhelming and terrifying and exciting and very, very real. That was one of those flashbulb moments that we all have in our lives - those little random snippets of time that stick with us forever.  I don't remember the day or what I was wearing or what else was happening otherwise in my life, but I remember sitting on those steps and realizing that life as I knew it had completely changed. Over those four + years, we made the townhouse a home - lost teeth, hugs, laughs, tears, milestones, Band-aids, boo-boos, messes, puzzles, good news, bad news, you  name it. 

And there I sat years later in the very same spot, but in a completely different place.  It was a true sunrise/sunset moment in my life.  

I was ready and excited for my new home with my soon to be husband and our new family.  But there was something so bittersweet about saying goodbye to the home that saw me from those first moments of bewilderment and fear to the woman I had become and to the life that I had obtained.  I wouldn't necessarily miss the house, but I felt a twinge of sadness to say goodbye to the home.  Which brings it all full circle ... back to the first blog post I published upon my separation.  Over those four years, I realized that a home was not a house and a house was not a home - that "home" was the people you love, rather than a structure in which you live.  And now, almost a year later, my home is with my darling husband and children in the wonderful family that we have created in the beautiful house in which we live.  But there will be forever a piece of me that is grateful for that little home that was there for me when I started my life over, at my most vulnerable, and became a place of safety, security and love.  


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