Today my parents are moving the last pieces of furniture out of the house that my family has called home for 25 years. This is the house I was brought home from the hospital to; where we celebrated every birthday and Christmas morning growing up; where every pet we ever had is laid to rest in the backyard; where we stood on the front porch every "first day of school" each year. My parents worked hard to give my brother and I the childhood we had and they often made sacrifices (my mom gave up her career to be home with us and my dad constantly fought threats of his job relocating to another state) and tough decisions (refinancing during a tough economy) to ensure we had a safe and stable place to call home.
While selling their nest egg had always been on the list for steps to a happy retirement, it wasn't until a few major changes in life circumstances (my dad lost his job suddenly, after 35 years with his company, and my Grandma -a resident of Redondo Beach for 40 years- moved to Arkansas to live with family) that my parents realized that the time had come. They ultimately decided to sell their house and buy my Grandma's beach front condo (all 700 sq ft of it!) which is just a few minutes away, to keep the property in the family. Since March, they have been making plans to renovate and update the tiny space they (and their 2 dogs and 1 cat) will call home for the next chapter of life.
What at first seemed like the reality-tv experiment of the year (my parents are used to having 3000 sq.ft of living space to themselves for the past few years) has been a surprisingly humbling and humorous escapade for us all. I love calling my parents and hearing about all the things they have been doing together: picking out paint, tile, flooring, lighting, furniture, etc... not to mention simply walking the dogs, making dinner, and running errands. I think they have spent more "quality" time together in the past nine months than they have in their 28 years of marriage- and it couldn't be better. For the first time in almost 3 decades, it's about them and what they want. I only wish we could be there to help, but the time alone has forced them to depend more on one another than ever and I am so excited to see how everything comes together for them and their new itty-bitty beachy condo!
Of course...saying goodbye to "my" house (which sold in just a few weeks, praise God!) was not easy. When we were home in April, I spent time studying details like views from each of the windows and reminiscing about all the memories that are packed into each of the rooms. I took some photos so I could remember everything, but I am surprised by how peaceful and content I feel when I look at them. I'm sure it will hit me hardest next time we go home to visit and I don't turn down my street, pull into my driveway, and see my mom standing at the front door waiting to hug us and drag our luggage into my old room. I'll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now, I simply want to reflect on the beautiful house that it was for my family for so many years... and that no matter what the address is, home is wherever family is (...which is luckily still by the beautiful California beach!).