The lease for the house I spent the better years of my 20s ended on Monday, my birthday. My husband and I hauled away the last of our things and are now couch-hopping until we move to his hometown in New Jersey.
Our house is empty now. Left behind are only dents in the carpet, bent window screens and the echo that bounced off the walls on our last night, when I looked up at you and said, “This feels weird.” I really meant to say, “This doesn’t feel like home.”
It’s all space with no potential -- not for us, anyway. Now all I can think of is the box of photos and love letters I took from our closet and stored in my sister’s attic.
I only opened that box once, maybe twice, a year, but I’m worried about leaving it on the island. How can we make a new home without a box filled with random things that remind us of how life used to be? A story I wrote for you on the inside of a cardboard coffee cup sleeve, polaroids of our friends piled on a couch that’s no longer there, paintings made by my 3-year-old nephew, the post card you sent to me while I was crying in Maui -- all of these things feel like home.
I keep promising people we’ll come back for that box in a few years, but I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t even know what comes next. Leaving the box behind means leaving everything else behind, and I’m starting to realize that’s OK.
The house is empty now. The last memory I made in there is of an echo that wishes it still felt like home. But the first memory I made out of there is the moment I understood that home is just the space between me looking at you.