My eyes that were filled with wonder and enchantment on that very first day are now filled with hidden, invisible tears as I put my hand on the blue rusty handrails to make my way down to the last floor for the last time. I always hated those stairs; I would count them each and every time, grumbling and wondering why they had to be that many. 9 times 4. 36 steps I’d climb every day to get up to my room or to get out into the big wild world. This time, I couldn’t have been happier that they were that many. I couldn’t have been happier that I still had such a long way to go.
I think over the years, I’ve learnt how to let go of things and people as I’ve moved from place to place looking for the new one I’d call home for the next few months, and while saying goodbye doesn’t necessarily get easier, it might become something you get used to at the same time. There are some things I’ve never really imagined being without, there are some places I’ve never believed my feet would never touch again, there are just some things you believe will remain.
That house was one of the few things I believed would always be. Always be home. Always be safe. Always be mine.
I’m not naïve. I always knew at some point we’d have to let go of it and I watched as the moment and set time drew nearer and nearer. I saw the signs and watched decisions take place in real time behind curtains. I knew that would be the last time I’d be in that space, the last time I’d breath in that air, the last time the first thing I’d see in the daylight would be those old green walls.
I knew I would never be able to walk back in there as I pleased or book a flight back whenever I felt lost in the big city and needed a reminder of where I came from. I knew I would never be able to sit in that room and be vividly transported back to the early days when I thought I had it all and most importantly knew it all. I knew that I’d never give that address to the pizza delivery guys or even worse I’d never get pizza from the same place ever again.
I sat in my room for hours and allowed my mind to take a spin back to the time when there was a grey large bunk bed on the right side of the room as you entered in. A gigantic brown wardrobe sat on the left side and I was constantly faced with my own reflection at every turn as it had mirrors on each door. The walls were white back then, and most of my days were spent at elementary school learning basic words in Italian. My voice used to echo in the room as I repeated verbs and historical events out loud in my attempts to remember everything… okay, let’s not lie, most days I was probably just procrastinating on my homework.
At some point everything changed in that room; the bed became two separate single beds and that large brown wardrobe was replaced with two white separate ones from IKEA. As we grew into boobs and ‘outrageous’ teenage opinions, my sister and I begged for our room to be painted a different colour from the typical boring plain white. After weighing my parents down, we eventually had our way. The four walls became green, which we loved until there was nothing so special about them anymore.
There were so many good times in there; karaoke sessions and a lot of literally ‘peeing my pants’ loud laughs with new friends that turned into best friends. There were hard times in there as well like post-surgery recovery, screams and tears and difficult decisions.
I grew up in there. I formed thoughts and beliefs while I argued and debated and disagreed. There were days I cried in there; some were loud and frustrated, others were silent under my leopard print cosy-warm covers that I was absolutely obsessed with. The first significant thing I ever wrote, I did on the kitchen table when I was about 10/11and since then, I never stopped putting words on paper, or more like on the notes app and Word documents nowadays.
In that house, I swore I couldn’t wait to grow up and ‘adult’. In that house, I celebrated turning eighteen. In that same house, I began to feel the pressure of ‘adulting’ and wished I could go back to those bunk bed days when all I had to do was finish my assignments in exchange for TV time.
As I walked down the stairs for the last time, I remembered all those moments, all the little things I thought insignificant that then built up only to later explode and implode and change everything. Every. Single. Thing. I recognised that it all led to that ending. It all led to me walking away from the house that still feels very much like home to me. It all led to me losing that home.
I’m glad I got to be there one last time. I’m glad I got to touch those marble floors and wooden doors that shaped my every thought and every move. As I walked down the stairs, memories came flooding through like a series of flashback scenes from a television show; all the things I hope I’d always remember and all the things I wish I could forget. At least I’ll take the memories. I’ll have those for as long as I possibly can. I’ll hold on to the memories and hope they can fill up the space wherever I find myself next, and if they can’t, I guess I’ll deal with it then. For now, I’ll take those memories that may remain like footprints on the sand and be thankful for the house that built me.
Your restless romantic roamer