Back To The Old House



As you know, my ex bought out my equity in the house with help from her dad so she wouldn’t have to sell it in order to divide our property. This was the easiest and most sensible approach for a number of reasons, none of which need reiteration here. But what this means is that the place where I lived for 11 years is now entirely someone elses’ property.

Nothing of any real significance has changed. Well, all my stuff is gone, or at least the overwhelming majority of it has gone – the books, clothes, some furniture, several boxes of sundry items, but over all, the house remains the same. Except it has changed to a significant extent. The atmosphere is different. It no longer feels like my home – of course, it isn’t but you know what I mean. When I walk in with the kids in the brief interim between picking them up from school and taking them home with me I no longer feel any obligation to the building. I no longer care if the kids have left stuff lying on the living room floor, the rooms seem colder and somehow less inviting than they once were, I feel no need to put away any item left lying out of place, nor do I feel comfortable going upstairs. I have this weird thing about not going into someone elses’ bedroom, (obvious circumstances notwithstanding), and as the master suite is no longer my bedroom, it feels like I’m trespassing if I need to go upstairs to check if I’ve left anything lying around that I need to collect.

This is a completely different feeling to the one I had when I went into our previous home. It had been listed for sale, and as a Realtor, I had access to the keybox. We were over there one day and we decided to drive by and take a look. I left my card on the kitchen counter and took a look round. It was a wholly emotionless experience, seeing the changes that had been made since we sold it, and I felt nothing for the place that had essentially been “A machine for living in” to quote Le Corbusier.

Maybe it’s because the old house is the nicest place I’ve ever lived. Maybe it’s because it’s where we raised the kids. Maybe it’s because it’s where everything went slowly and inexorably south. Who knows? It seems strange to attach atmosphere to an inanimate object, to feel like it has changed in ways both subtle and ominous, but it just doesn’t feel the way it did when I lived there. Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe a bad thing. Maybe it’s a sign that I’ve moved on. Heck, my current house feels more like home than the old house. Perhaps the old saying holds true: “Home is the place that when you knock on the door, they have to let you in”.


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