Sheryl and I came here earlier this month, from the house in which I spent the last seventeen years. It was originally my grandparents’ house, and I spent the first four years of my life in there, too. If you take into account the vast amount of time I spent in there during my childhood and early teen years until both grandparents were gone, it’s safe to say I spent over half my life in that house. That tiny, cramped house with the odd floor plan and all of its quirks. I lived in a few other places during the ensuing years, but in the end I kept coming home, and there I stayed until three weeks ago.
I moved in there seventeen years ago, a little over a year before my first marriage kicked off. In the grand scheme of things that was a short-lived experiment, and I think it’s appropriate that I’m no longer living there now that the starting point of my second marriage is less than two months down the road. New life, new wife, clean slate, sort of thing. But first wife aside, over the years I shared that space with a couple of others who came and went; in fact, the only constant is my old dog, who I brought home as a tiny puppy about a year after I moved back in there, and who is now a senior citizen wandering around the new place, gamely trying to figure out the lay of the land.
I spent many years during that span alone in that old house – well, sort of. I was the only living human inhabitant, is what I mean to say. I have reason to believe that one of my deceased predecessors was (is?) still lurking in there, and made him/herself apparent from time to time. There’s an interesting tale behind that statement but it, too, is another story for another day.
One of the biggest things I’m still trying to get used to is the lack of noise in the new place. I don’t mean to suggest it’s silent in here – far from it. The dog paces incessantly, the cats dash up and down the hallway like their lives depend on it, and there’s been a steady stream of workers putting the finishing touches on various things around here. But the floorboards don’t creak in familiar ways, there are no stairs that squeak to let me know which one is being stepped on, and I can’t hear the old furnace as it rumbles to life in the basement. The size of the rooms is different here, which means the acoustics are “off”. The hum of the refrigerator sounds echo-y. The trickle of the filters in the fish tank sound strangely hollow.
I’m not complaining by any means. I’m slowly but surely settling into the new place and, like my old dog, getting a feel for new surroundings. It’s only been in the last couple of days that I’ve had much of a chance to really spend much time in here and start to get familiar with the aura of the place. There’s a lot more room to spread out in here, which delights the resident animal kingdom greatly. But the old place was like an old pair of tennis shoes: broken down and not much to look at any more, but comfortable in a way that something new can never be. I like to think that the reason the new place sounds so hollow and open by comparison is that it isn’t filled to the brim with memories yet. It’ll take some time, but we’re working on that part.