Moving On from your Childhood Home, Danville

{Because Archana Tipnis phrased it best: “You’ll always have the master key to that house. The current residents just live within its four walls and roof, but you have the ability to open & shut the door to your “house of memories” whenever you wish to go back”}

It’s incredibly difficult letting go of your childhood home. My parents moved from the Bay Area, California to Luanda, Angola at the same time that I left for college in Dallas, Texas forever leaving behind the suburban house where I grew up in Danville. I felt lost for a while, unsure where to call home, stubbornly clinging onto whatever gave me a sense of stability in a personal world that had drastically changed.

I returned to the Bay Area for Thanksgiving Break this past week bracing myself for the juxtaposition of emotions that had wracked me each time I visited my loving family-friends and old haunts in my past three visits. But this trip turned out to be different. People say that “Time heals everything” and in this case I think Time has finally worked its magic: my fourth trip back has been the first time that I was able to truly stand in front of my old house without feeling acute pangs of nostalgia.

A second new family has moved into my childhood home: four cars and a different color of paint now characterize the house. I stood across the street taking my luggage into my godmother’s house. I noted that the current residents changed the mailbox that my high school and college acceptance letters came in. The creaky wooden side door I used to swing on after mom made me take out the garbage bins on Sunday nights looked a lot more stable. The current residents have put a giant plant in front of the window where our golden retriever Buddy used to peer through to see if we were home from school yet. Our green door has been replaced by a cherry red one and rather than our wreaths, a simple gold knock hangs from the hook I remember carefully hammering in. As the Uber left me between the houses on the street where I learnt how to ride my bike, where my friends had once piled out of the limousine at my Sweet Sixteen birthday party, I waited.

And to my surprise, no tears came. No twist of sadness or pain hit me even when I watched a light turn on through the closed curtains of my old bedroom window. The house is no longer mine and for the first time I feel okay with that.

Change happens whether we’re ready for it or not, and affects you almost always in ways you can never predict. Standing before the repainted house, I realized that I too had repainted the tableau of my life with many more experiences than my younger self had ever had whilst living in my childhood house. New memories – especially with the people back in the Bay Area that remained a part of my life after my family moved away – redefined what coming “home” meant to me.

The rain started to fall and the new residents pressed the clicker I knew was on the left side of the door to close the garage. But as the doors to my old house slowly shut before me, I didn’t feel adrift. Neither a desire to toss eggs at the new resident’s front porch nor a want to peek inside the windows stirred within me. Instead, calmness washed over me – and in that moment I realized I had finally moved on.

*Originally written for The SMU Odyssey on March 15 2016, as “How It Feels to Move On From Your Childhood Home.”

Author: Nikita Taimni

A Dubai-based blogger, I write about travel, theatre and lifestyle in the cities I explore around the world. Follow me on Instagram @nikitalyfe and follow via email if you enjoy reading my posts!

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