We’ve been out of the house for a week now, but instead of being immersed in the demands of China, we’re immersed in the limbo of waiting for our visas. In this unsettled moment, I had a dream last night about the house. It was the kind of dream you have when you miss a person.
We know the house is in good hands. Our tenants are straight out of central casting for the perfect renters: a young couple and their three-year-old daughter who has strawberry blonde hair, excited to be in the neighborhood.
Nevertheless, there’s a sadness that goes along with leaving a place where you’ve lived for 24 of the last 25 years. We brought a newborn Joanna home to those walls, and marked the kids’ growth with notches inside Joanna’s closet door. We have the ashes of my cat Persephone buried in the front of the house, just under a sweet stone shaped like a sleeping kitty. We’ve had more New Year’s Day open houses, dinner parties, dancing-on-tables parties, birthday celebrations, Passover seders, Thanksgiving dinners, Easter egg hunts, latke fries, book club meetings, PTA gatherings, and unauthorized high school parents-are-away parties than we can count.
We’ve mourned deaths. My acapella group sang many times there. The house has been home to two cats.
After everything had been moved out of the house and the walls were freshly painted, I sat for a while on our front steps and chatted with neighbors as they came by to wish us well. All the babies and young kids on the street will be so much bigger when we live there again. I hope the old folks will be well, and that all the street’s pets live long. One thing that seems certain is that the house will be basically the same old house, with its old tiles in the bathrooms and the front door that sticks in the humidity. One of the joys of leaving is coming home again, and I’m already looking forward to that.