One week in the middle of May 2011 I graduated from Highschool. That week started with a 4-ish hour drive south to the Twin Cities on Tuesday to meet with my college adviser and register for classes, then the drive back home.
On Thursday we practiced how to graduate, including trying on our flat hats and throwing our tassels at one another in our Senior Adviser’s classroom. Someone picked a stupid senior class color, someone chose country music to go over our slideshow (I hate country music), and we were lined up in alphabetical order.
On Friday we graduated, gave some speeches, hugged each other, accepted flowers and well-wishes.
On Saturday a whole bunch of people from all chapters of my life swarmed all over my yard, porch, and house to celebrate my successfully walking across a school gym and shaking someone’s hand (and completing the 13 years of classes that were the prerequisite of that honor). As people sipped punch and ate pulled pork sandwiches on my porch at one end of the house, my family hauled boxes and furniture out of the garage at the other end and tetrised them into a huge trailer to be hauled behind a borrowed truck to Canada (North Dakota).
On Sunday we moved away from the house in which I had lived since I was three years old.
I had my first big girl bed in my bedroom there. I got to choose the stencils for the walls. I fell and goose-egged my tiny head the first night we lived there, causing my parents to realize they didn’t know where the closest hospital was. (Spoiler: it was a half hour drive away). I learned at the home school table in the basement, danced to Steven Curtis Chapman and Steve Green on the orange shag carpet with my brother for P.E., explored the forest (my yard) for science. I saw shapes in the stones of the fireplace as if they were clouds. I shaved my legs for the first time in the basement shower. I grazed our goats in the tall grass of our ditch. I fed baby chickens in the shed in the backyard, collected their eggs later on. I pulled millions (hundreds) of weeds from the gardens. I built dozens of forts in the woods. I learned to ride my bike on the garage slab. I learned to drive a car in the circle driveway. I got ready for prom in the living room with my best friend. I had fights in that house, made friends in that house, made mistakes in that house, loved in that house, hated in that house, grew in that house.
We moved to North Dakota, four or five hours northwest, and we didn’t sell the house. Eventually my parents found some renters. They always thought they’d go back once they retired and live there again. I always thought that too. My brother had a pipe dream of starting a summer camp on the land with his wife.
Yesterday the house was listed for sale. The renters were gone, the floors were polished, the driveway resurfaced, the lawn mowed. The realtor took pictures with a wide angle lens to make the rooms look bigger, upped the exposure to aid the natural light.
My childhood home needs a new family. And yes, it has to be a family. It can’t be an old couple unless their grandkids visit every week. It can’t be a young couple unless they have kids right away. Because that house has childhood steeped in every beam and shingle.