I’ve been strangely lax on publishing this post, which I wrote more than two weeks ago. I can’t really put my finger on why, but something has kept me from clicking that “Publish” button. I guess it can only be my hesitation to bid a final farewell to this most recent chapter of my life. Bear with me as I’m muddling through the transition, and thanks for your support.
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For five years, my family and I called the beautiful city of Charlotte, NC, home. Now, after a hectic fews days of moving, the time has come to say goodbye. How do I begin to express how much I’ll miss this place and the people I’ve met here?
Given the challenges we encountered while trying to buy a home in Ohio, what I expected would be a week or so spent away from Charlotte to house hunt turned into three. That left just one whirlwind week to wrap up my life in this city and say my goodbyes.
I didn’t get to see everyone I hoped to, and I definitely wasn’t able to bid farewell in the way I wanted.
I’m a pretty sentimental person. I don’t like change and I don’t like goodbyes. I didn’t want to leave grade school for high school, I didn’t want to leave high school for college and I certainly didn’t want to leave college for the real world.
Throughout this move I’ve reminded myself of this many times. I know it’s largely the change that’s making my heart so heavy.
The change. The goodbye.
In my last week, I met friends at playgrounds, went to sendoff dinners and attended our last neighborhood party. In these moments, I was light and carefree. I didn’t think too much about last times or last looks. I gave out hugs and promised I’d see my friends again.
But the reality is, I don’t know when.
My goodbyes to this city and its people have to be good ones. I have no work trips to bring me back, no unfinished business lingering to be completed. It may be a long time before I see this place again.
One of the hardest goodbyes was the one I had to say to our beloved first house. After we toured it together and declared our mutual love for it, my husband covertly secured it for us while I was out of town. When I returned, he surprised me with a picture and note, thanking me for my patience and welcoming me home.
We spent the first years of our marriage here. We brought our son home to this house from the hospital. We had first baths and first words and first steps here. We gave our oldest dog his first yard after a lifetime spent in apartments and brought home a puppy to join him shortly after.
We ripped down wallpaper, renovated bathrooms, painted walls and installed an antique mantle in the living room. I hung light fixtures and ceiling fans with my own two hands (yes, I’m the handyman around these parts) and never knew how proud I’d feel once the jobs were done.
This was our house and, to be honest, I had a hard time letting it go. During the week I had to say goodbye to it, I came to terms with just how strongly this house had gotten to feel like home.
I didn’t handle it well when the first pieces of mail addressed to the new owners started arriving. But, in truth, I’m happy for them. I hope they love the spectacular fig tree in the back yard as much as we did. I hope they strap young children into the tree swing and watch their little legs stretch toward the long, leafy branches. I hope their children color on the walls and that someone learns to ride a bike in the driveway.
And, selfishly, I hope they don’t cover up the Giving Tree I painted on our son’s nursery wall.
It doesn’t help that we don’t have a new home to go to. Despite making an offer or being close to doing so on five different houses, we’ve come up empty-handed. We have to start from square one and hope our new house finds us soon.
Until then, we’ll live with friends and family members, biding our time until we once again have a place to call home.
After the hectic week we spent packing, organizing and erasing our lives from this home, my husband and I took one last look and headed for the door with a little toddler hand clasped in each of our own. As we reached the front door, my husband stopped, put his arm around my shoulders and said, “This will always be our first home.” I promptly burst into tears.
Tears continued to roll down my cheeks as we stepped out onto the stoop and closed the locked door behind us. Our house was no longer ours.
As I held my son’s hand and took the first steps toward the car, the perpetually blue Carolina skies clouded over and a couple of fat raindrops fell from the sky. I looked up in disbelief: after two perfect days of moving, rain was moving in at the very moment we were moving out.
What did it all mean? Was the rain trying to compel us back through the locked door behind us? Should we race to the realtor’s office and call the whole thing off in a dramatic, last-minute change of heart?
No, I decided. That wasn’t it at all.
Here was Charlotte’s parting gift to me: a little touch of rain to make me forget just how lovely it usually is outside. The two perfect days preceding, the ease with which we sold our house, the rain moving in at just the last moment: everything was telling me that this was meant to be.
Still, I will really miss this place.
To all of you I met here, thank you. It’s been a great five years in Charlotte.
It’s time to say goodbye.