In 2004, I moved into a quaint little farmhouse in Jordan, Ontario. Jordan was small, but the house was smaller. It was 200 years old, and sat on a property with rolling hills, a big red barn, and beautiful hiking trails. My parents, brothers and I were sandwiched into this little house, with our two dogs, who often were caught sneaking butter off the table, or a pork chop off the plate of an unsuspecting family member. While I lived in many houses before this one, it was the first home I’d ever had. Thinking about it now, I can still recall some of my childhood memories, in the most vivid of colours, despite how much time has passed, and how many things have changed. I said goodbye to my dog in that house, battled snakes in that house, did my homework in that house, grew up in that house. Two years later, construction began on what would become my new home. The same 200 year old rolling hills and big red barn, but with a new home sprouting from the earth. We built a house that had everything we could have ever wanted; and then that house became a home.
I’ve been there for twelve years now. In those twelve years, I became terribly attached to it all. To the pond in the back yard, and the huge willow tree that hung above it. To the nearby streams and the frogs that you’d hear at night. I became so terribly attached to the brick and stone, to the tall ceilings and book shelves that when I heard we were moving I felt as though a part of my heart had been torn out.
I spent twelve years making memories in that house. I still remember the surprise party I threw for my best friend in that house. I remember how terrified I was of my secret room, that I had to take the door off. I remember riding my bike down the driveway and scraping my knees when I fell. I remember the country as the snow fell, and the Christmas tree standing tall in my living room, with presents nestled below. I remember where my guinea pig is buried, and where I found the baby bird that I nursed back to health. When you spend most of your life jumping one from house to the next, having so many memories in one place seems sort of surreal.
As I grew up, the farm out in Jordan remained a big part of my life. I explored more of the nearby trails. Found a quiet place to watch the water rush over the Upper Falls. Began appreciating nature in a new light. When my parents got divorced, I dug my feet even deeper into the silky clay soil, to stay as solid as I possibly could. When I left for college, I was called back to the rolling hills; desperate for the quietness of a summer’s night, or a sky untouched by the pollution of the city, that would silently fill with stars as the darkness crept in. I returned home four years ago and picked up right where I had left off – making memories and finding peace.
Not long ago, I began to look at the future. I saw myself growing old there, with a family of my own. I had hoped to someday purchase it from my mom, so that I could watch as my children scraped their knees on the driveway and make memories of their own. Four months ago, the vision that I had created in my mind slipped away, and reality set in.
My boyfriend and I had been living together for four months. We had made a home out of the fruit shed that sat on the other side of the driveway. Years before it had been turned into an apartment for my brothers, and as they grew up, their girlfriends moved in, and eventually they all moved out. It became a sort of stepping stone, as you prepared to move on bigger and better things. I never wanted to move onto bigger and better things; I wanted to grow and plant roots where I was. On Sunday, my boyfriend and I take the same step as my brothers before me, and move on to bigger and better things; leaving behind a house that became a home some twelve years ago.
I write this not for sympathy or to change the path that life has so thoughtfully laid out for me, but only to say goodbye to the house that built me. To remember the house that taught me how to take risks, to love, to appreciate, to breathe. To remember the house that taught me it’s okay to plant roots. To say finally say goodbye to the house that taught me to remember the past but look forward to the future.
I am forever grateful for the twelve years I was lucky enough to spend within those walls, surrounded by that beauty. I hope whoever finds themselves sitting beneath the old willow tree will love my home as much as I did.