6am, lying in bed unable to sleep, the clock accompanying my vigil, ticking time with my hours of thoughts. We leave this house tomorrow, and somebody else’s life begins here.
How many nights have I lain awake in this room? Fatigue, hangover, pregnancy discomfort, babies crying, anxiety, restlessness? How many mornings have I looked out into the square, the trees that have kept watch all night, swaying hello to a new day. I know this house so intimately – you could say we rebuilt it – not a square inch did we not analyse, discuss, rebuild, paint, admire. Literally not one square inch.
I arrived in this house a single girl in love, full of dreams and ambition. Soon after, I walked through the front door in my wedding dress to embark on a new adventure. And back through that beleaguered old door I brought home my two babies, my greatest creations of all. This house is all they’ve known. It is their entire world. In this house I learned to be a new person – a wife and a mother…. and a writer.
I made this house, but it seems this house also made me.
These old thick walls have held the lives and loves of many families in its 160 year history, and so, while it has nurtured me through the most important years of my life, we are a mere chapter in its long life story. But maybe we have left our marks, little reminders that we were here. Our girls’ footprints in the cement, a beautiful garden my husband toiled to create, tearing down overgrown mayhem to plant seed by seed, tree by tree, a magnificent explosion of colour and organised chaos.
We will say goodbye, our whole marriage wrapped in these walls, and as we drive away tomorrow for the last time, the trees in the square, my protectors all these years, will sway their goodbye and we will all start over again. But I imagine a little of our spirit remains: a childish giggle of delight up the stairs; the heat of my upturned face to the sun as I sit in the garden seat; an occasional clatter from my endless hours in the kitchen as I came to grips with the monstrous monotony of cooking for kids; the tapping of my keyboard; the laughter from dinner parties round the table; whispers in the lounge from our talking, our laughing, our rowing, our crying, our loving and more of our laughing.
We loved this house and this house loved us. And on Saturday morning a new face will pull back the curtains at our bedroom window, and I hope she’ll smile as the trees sway hello to a new day.