A house is just a house. It’s the people inside of it that make it a home.
Today our family embarks on a new adventure. Yesterday, we moved out of the house we’ve lived in and loved for 13 years (lucky 13). There are a lot of memories packed into that space. Our first dog lived and died there, and where our second dog was ushered into our lives. Our son was born, hurriedly, on the bathroom floor, late on a June night some 11 years ago. It’s the front door through which we carried our daughter for the first time, home from weeks in the hospital after her premature birth. It is the place where we toasted my parents on their final trips to our home before their passing. It was the site of celebrating new jobs, report cards, goals scored, birthdays, Christmases and anniversaries. Backyard plays with friends from around the neighbourhood, special bonds formed with so many.
But all of these things, much like all the objects and possessions in the house, can be packaged up, and carried with us as memories, and friends can remain friends no matter where one lives.
A house is just a house. It’s the memories formed inside of and around it that make it a home.
So, we are taking on a new adventure. It is equal measures new and exciting, and familiarity.
Some 22 years ago, almost to this week, I first laid eyes on our new home. It is a place already full of memories for our family.
|One kid's bedroom. Without the kid, though, just a room.|
That requires some explanation, I know. So here we go.
|That bathroom floor where our son was born!|
As a 17-year-old, I first came to this place I today call home. My dad drove me from Kamloops on a warm day in June, 1997. A lanky kid, come to the big city of Vancouver to attend his girlfriend’s high school graduation.
In my mid-20’s, I stood in the corner of the living room of the same house on the West side of town, at a make-shift altar space cleared out. A slightly-less lanky kid saying ‘I Do’ to that same girl, and she the same to me, before God and gathered family.
And in my late 30’s (err, that would be now), a familial arrangement is made, one that will benefit multiple generations.
The house (in case you haven’t figured it out by now), is the one that Kate grew up in. Her mom has been there for some 45 years, and she and her partner are ready to downsize… without going too far away. A laneway house is about to be built in the back yard. Kate, the kids and I have just moved into the main house. It will position Kate’s mom well to not have to take care of a big property, and for us to be nearby to help her in whatever way as years tick by. It’s a homecoming for Kate, for certain, having spent her first many years here. But it’s also a full circle for me, too, for all the memories I have in this place.
As for our kids, they too, have existing memories from this house, and they don’t have to feel quite so nervous about a move as new schools await and a different way of moving through the world is now upon them. We hope, among many things, that the kids will nurture a deep sense of appreciation for what family supporting family can look like. Many cultures are smart enough to know that intergenerational living has benefits for all involved, and we’re hoping to model that.
|Another kid's room, now empty|
It will be a while before the dust settles on the laneway house project, so there is still some maneuvering to be done before this new arrangement is totally underway. In the short term, we also have a lot of boxes to unpack, so pictures of some finished spaces will come soon!
Kate has asked me a number of times if I feel sad for leaving the house that we first bought together, renovated multiple times, built a family in and weaved ourselves into the fabric of the neighbourhood. I don’t feel sad. I never feel sad for moving on from a place. It has always been this way for me. I am always interested more in looking forward to new beginnings.
|Nino takes his final front porch|
siesta at our now-former home.
After all--need I say it again--a house is just a house. It’s the memories formed inside of and around it that make it a home.
And I will carry those memories with me, always. They don't get left behind, and best of all, there is no packing or unpacking of boxes required to get to them.
|Welcome back home, Kate|