Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bye-bye house

This is a photo of the back door and little entrance room (what should I call it, a foyer?) at my grandmother's place. Except that now it's her former place. The house has been sold and Monday was the official changeover day. Yesterday the rental tenants moved in.

My grandparents bought the house in 1937. My father and his siblings all grew up there, and in 1986 my grandfather died there. A year or so ago, my grandmother moved out to a retirement place, returning to the house about once a week so she could do a bit of gardening and her laundry - she refused to learn how to operate the washing machines at her new place :)

For me, the house was the setting for many family Christmases, a few childhood holidays, and lots of casual drop-in-and-see-the-grandparents visits. It always seemed as much a part of the family as we humans are.

And so, knowing for months that it was going to be sold, I was expecting to get to this point and feel sad. Or nostalgic. Or even angry. But the weird fact is, I feel nothing at all. Nothing. It's like I've hardly even noticed the whole event. I even forgot to take photos of the place until all the furniture had been moved out, and by that time all the rooms were deserted and empty. (The photos are at Flickr in the "Another house" set.)

It feels like I should have made a better effort to record the place, to preserve the memory of it in some way, to mark its passing and signal the end of this family-history era.

But I can't seem to want to. Which means in turn that I'm just not going to. And so the house leaves the family and goes to someone else, and instead of waving goodbye and sniffling, I have another cup of tea and feel nothing.

It's just too weird. I don't know what's going on. I felt guilty about forgetting to take photos while the house was still lived-in, as though it will one day be something I'll expect myself to have done. And now I feel guilty about not being upset. And this ridiculous situation is accompanied by the types of questions which probably have no answer: What's the point? What are we here for? What if we live and die and disappear without a trace and there's no one to mourn the loss of us: would it matter that we'd lived? What about after the people we love and who love us are gone too - will our lives have meant anything beyond us? What's death? What's life? What's the bloody point??

I was hoping that by the time I got to the end of this post there'd be an obvious and uplifting way to finish it. But guess what...
Let's just go back up to the photo above and admire that lovely door and window. Nice, aren't they?