My parents bought the house I lived in throughout my entire childhood when I was about two years old.
It was small and yellow and had black shutters. There was pool in back and a basketball hoop attached to the garage.
It was home. It’s still home, in many ways.
My parents continue to live there, and I visit every summer.
I wanted that for my children; to establish a family home that withstood generations as our family changed and grew. I wanted to watch it transform through the years as we settled in and personalized it to our family’s lifestyle.
Drew and I closed on our house nearly six years ago, after we moved to the Charlotte area for a job opportunity. I was 34 weeks pregnant with Dylan and Sydney was turning two years old. She wore her hair in little pigtails nearly every day.
I moved out of that house a week ago.
Out of the “marital” home, where I had lived with only the children for the past two years.
When I first learned that I’d have to move—that there was no way that I could assume the mortgage on a house that was purchased with a physician’s income, I was devastated.
Jack, ever the voice of reason, freed me from my angst by telling me how much better his daughter fared after they moved out of their house and they weren’t living with memories of an intact family. Make a new home, he urged, one that you choose with the only the three of you in mind.
Ever since that conversation, I longed to leave. To crawl out from under the burden of a house that I couldn’t afford, in a neighborhood plagued with several nosy, judgmental neighbors, in an area of town that is far from my work and most of the friends I’ve made since the inception of my single life.
I was hopeful that I could move last March. But a judge said no, based on some papers filed by the plaintiff.
I anticipated that the custody dispute would be settled by early fall, but an ill guardian ad litem delayed the decision for months.
Finally, in November, all the shackles were removed. I was free to leave the house that I’d begun to loathe.
So I moved out last week, in a haze of packing and painting and boxes and organizing.
By his choice, Drew is moving back in this weekend.
I don’t understand his decision to return to that home. The home that the children have never slept in without me. The home that the neighbors consider to be “Tara’s house”. The home that was chosen with me, decorated and cared for by me, and left by him.
I suspect that the children will look for me for months. I know the neighbors are apprehensive at the change, although he boasts that he’ll be welcomed with open arms.
I can’t imagine how another woman—a new relationship—will feel, spending time with a man who is surrounded by the remnants of his old life. A life that clearly made him miserable.
I think the fact that he’s returning to that house is weird and unhealthy. I think it will inhibit the emotional adjustment of the children. I think it will prolong his blatant animosity toward me, and mine toward him.
Maybe that’s just me, projecting a sense of loss. Dreading the day when I’m there only as a guest, rather than as the resident. It’s possible that everyone else in the world will interpret his actions as brave, or justifiable, or wise.
But I don’t.
Yet I have no control over it. Once I handed over the key, that house was no longer my business, and I have no intention of speaking of this again. Because I have a new home now. Chosen by me, filled with my children’s toys and our friends. Free of memories and obligation and loss.
It’s his bed now, he can lay in it.
Hopefully he’ll be happier this time around.