Today I sold my parents' house.
There was no ritual handing over of keys, no final moment, no looking back. I was a hundred miles away, keys were left or sent down by post, and the last time I was there was more than a fortnight ago. I hadn't know then that it would be my last visit, but that's the way it turned out. So no chance for a last goodbye, and maybe that's a bad thing, maybe that's a good thing, I don't know yet.
We didn't grow up in that house, me or my brother or my sister, but for twenty years it had been the other place that we could go that still felt like a home, and for our children that only even more so. We all spent a lot of time there in the last three years, after my dad died and my mum was very ill. And then we've spent time there in the last few months too, in a house that had lost its soul but was full of two lives, and the history of those lives, and the history of large chunks of our lives, stuffed into photo albums and packed up in boxes, and tucked away between the pages of books.
We took the things that mattered to us, and we left a lot that mattered too, because you can't take all of it, and if you did, what would you even do with it? So we took what mattered most, and regretted the rest, and then we each left for the last time and Wednesday and Thursday a firm of house clearers came in and took everything else, and left the place a blank canvas for the people who would start a new life there, and make their own history.
This morning, I woke up at 5:07, from one of the most vivid dreams that I have ever had. Most of the time, my dreams are meaningless jumbles: entertaining, surreal, scary, with nothing more coherent than an inchoate anxiety, or confusion. This dream was different. I was back at the house, because I had to choose the things that I was going to take away and keep. But this time, it was full in a very literal sense. Everything that I had owned and loved as a child, as a teenager, in those awkward years before flying the nest, it was all there. Every bike I had ever owned. Every guitar I had ever owned. Shelves upon shelves of books. I couldn't take it all, I wasn't able to. I could maybe choose one of everything, probably not even that.
All the things I had loved, a history of my life, and I could only take what I could carry, and all the rest I would have to leave behind. Doesn't take a Freud or a Jung, that one. Stayed with me all day, and will stay with me longer yet.