Although this has been an inevitable moment, I wasn't quite prepared for how I was going to feel. Mum and Dad moved out of their home yesterday, mine and my sister's childhood home. Me and my sister Katy have exchanged a few texts this week talking about how we're feeling, and I've felt a growing unease in my belly as the move date grew nearer. It feels like I'm grieving, in a way I guess I am. When I walked through the empty hall yesterday, I played so many moments over in my mind. I could hear the sounds of us inside the house, and the sounds of the house itself. The wind whistling through the gaps in the doors, the creaky second step, the sound of Dad tapping the barometer in the hall, the logs crackling in the fire, the radio in the kitchen.
I just wanted one last goodbye.
A few weeks ago, we had a day of tidying out our old bedrooms. So many memories were harboured in dusty drawers, I also spent time taking a few self portraits and some of my family too.
Memories of sitting at the dining room table waiting for our Sunday roast, an assortment of condiments in the middle, and Dad's steaming mug of cocoa at the end. If we had visitors, the table would be pulled out and the best mats retrieved from the kitchen drawer. After the roast, we used to listen to the top 40 and I'd make an attempt to tape my favourite songs holding my portable recorder up to the radio. The tapes would have the added soundtrack of Mum washing the plates in the sink, and Katy practicing her ballet steps on the wooden floor with a short sharp shush from me now and again.
I'd often look eagerly out of the lounge window waiting for friends to call. In the evenings we'd sit by the fire and play card dominoes which still is our go-to family card game. When Grandma came to visit, she'd sit on the sofa with her oversized handbag, and magically retrieve pieces of fruit and nut from its depths to give to me and Katy. Lying on the rug in front of the fire, cramming my revision, whilst the cat curled himself up on the open school book. And all those Christmases, decorating the tree in the bay window with its multi coloured lights whilst stuffing our faces with toffees and listening to Now That's What I Call Christmas on the record player.
Into the hall, where the wind would race through on a winter's evening. All those conversations with friends on the phone concocting plans for parties and shopping trips, and weekly catch up chats on a Sunday afternoon with the Grandparents.
The stairs could be particularly challenging after a night out with friends. Exaggerated quiet movements whilst trying to remember where the creaky steps were so as not alert the sleepers upstairs. Then the added obstruction of the yucca plant on the top step which did go for a tumble on one occasion.
My room. The walls once heavy with lyrics from Smash Hits, Michael Praed posters and Athena prints of crushed coke cans. The room that witnessed first kisses and Malibu drinking with friends, all to the soundtrack of the 80's.
I'd spend time looking out at the hillside from my window and dream of travelling the world. In winter, the ice would form inside and out and my fingernails would scrape at the crystal shards on the window. The room became a shrine to Laura Ashley when I left for college.
Katy's room would always be so tidy, everything had its place. Little trinkets, teddy bears and the pictures of ballerinas on the wall.
Mum and Dad's room was the room with the long mirror and the plug in heater, and we'd get dressed for school in here on the coldest winter days. Christmas Day mornings we'd all be perched on the bed together unwrapping gifts. I remember the smell of Oil of Olay as Mum would be applying a dab from a new bottle.
From my place at the dining room table I could see what we call the club house. Within these small walls I formed a number of different clubs from U.F.O. spotting, to saving animals, to the Secret Agents' Club. All had their own badges, membership fees and rules. We joke now as my sister was only ever a half member, I have since apologised.
We actually did once nurse a poorly hedgehog back to health which I think we were all surprised about. Now there are faded stickers on the wall and the ivy has taken over both inside and out.
We didn't often go into the garage, this was Dad's space. The smell of oil and wood would hit you as the door lifted. This is where he went to fettle with tools, chop logs, and just get out of the house I'm sure.
This was a familiar sight as we came home from school. Mum cooking in the kitchen, the smell of a cake baking in the oven as we opened the back door.
It's so hard to say goodbye. One of my Instagram friends commented yesterday that these houses get into the deepest bits of our souls. I've felt a bit daft about how emotional I've been, but they were important years spent there.
The silver birch stands on the front lawn, although I'm not sure if the new owners will keep it, I think they want a bit more light in the lounge. Dad planted it for my 21st birthday. We've watched it grow through the seasons, and it's home to so many birds as they come and feed from the seeds hanging in its branches. It's the thought of the tree not being there that hurts the most.
But it is time to say goodbye. W've been through so much in that house and we've had such happy days. I hope the new owners can feel that as they begin to make number 8 their home too.