As the grey car trudges down the gravel driveway, it narrowly misses the worn down, “For Sale” sign that has recently been edited to read in capital letters: SOLD. My stomach drops when I see the haunting four letters, and my heart shatters into a million pieces. Despite my broken heart, as if pulled by a magnetic force, the car gravitates down the driveway and towards the house. The curtain of towering trees blocking my vision is opened revealing the beautiful blue house perched at the end of the driveway. Around the house leaves dance through the sky like colorful ballerinas, twirling in unison as they gracefully descend to the ground. This house and its beauty, that I had lived in and experienced for fifteen years, the place where my childhood existed, would soon fade into nothing but a mere memory. The car rears to a screeching stop, and with it my thoughts are interrupted, as I am abruptly dragged back to this present reality. I leap out desperate to treasure my last moments in the house, while longing to say goodbye.
The air is cool and refreshing when it hits my face. My nose is immediately flooded with the smell of pine trees, wood, and the distant smell of a campfire. I close my eyes, and inhale deeply trying to fill my lungs and my body with this air. There’s nothing like it, this is home. My hand reaches for the door handle and I hesitate for a brief moment trying to collect myself. My feet brush the “Home Sweet Home” rug and I freeze; numbed by the icy chill sent running through my veins. I feel the tears coming, but I summon the strength to push back the tsunami of pain and sadness growing and raging within me. With one final breath I push the door open. As it opens, I am drowned by waves of nostalgia. As these formidable waves crash into me, I’m submerged in the memories and feelings of my past and my childhood. It’s as if through a time machine, time has been reversed, and I am immediately transported to the past. This house has captured many of my “firsts” in life as both a baby and as a child. This house is the place I first learned to walk, and talk. It’s the place where I learned to ice skate. It’s the place I grew up with my grandparents and cousins. For providing me all these firsts, it reserves a special place in my heart, for it’s the place that I grew into the individual I am today. Within these walls, I got to be a child. And within these walls, in this house today, it’s where I say goodbye to my past. I’m overwhelmed and the feeling of drowning has made it hard to breath, I escape outside to get air. The beauty of the outdoors greets me, and her familiar smells and sights solace me. I wander down to the fire pit, surprised to find a growing orange and red flame within it. A cloud of smoke rises from the warm flames and I’m hypnotized. Another wave from my past smashes into me, but the flames challenge the waves. A feeling of comfort washes over me as I’m engulfed in a warm and welcoming hug. His arms carry me back in time. Here I am two years earlier sitting around the same campfire. The stars dance through the dark night, and twinkle against the dark canvas. As the flames crackle in the background, the fireflies glow in the grass. I see myself surrounded by the people I love most in the world, my sisters, parents, and grandparents. This was my childhood; sitting around the campfire, laughing, making smores, and being with my family. I remember and will always treasure these moments as some of the happiest times in my life. With this happiness now immortalized in my heart I finally feel ready to return inside, and I’m ready to say a final goodbye.
I gaze around the house. Although fully furnished I’m shocked by the emptiness it conjures again in my heart. My gaze is brought to the corner of the kitchen. Missing from the room is the three highchairs positioned in an assembly line for the well orchestrated and rehearsed feeding of three, hungry and querulous babies. I exit the kitchen and enter the living room to the left, I look to the wall beside me and my precious growth chart is gone. The wall once decorated with pencil tick marks, including the line that so proudly marked my arrival at four feet, one inch and three quarters has been covered with a fresh coat of clean white paint. I realize that as I have grown throughout my life, the house has grown with me. As the years went by, and the tick marks climbed higher and higher on that wall, the house’s growth was prominent too. I just didn’t see it then because I wasn’t looking. When I was young I was busy playing, laughing, and enjoying my childhood as I was living it. But I see it now; I see how the house grew. The original royal blue paint had chipped and its color had faded to a dull pale blue, and the planks outside the house had worn down so much that they squeaked when walking on them. Then the reality set in. The emptiness within me is the void from the loss of my childhood and the memories I created within my blue house. Somehow as time had passed, I failed to realize that with my growth, my childhood ended. I didn’t see that the monopoly and scramble games around the table were no longer a daily activity. I was blind to the fact that the fishing net, that had once caught my first fish out on the lake, had been retired to a closet. But now I see that I have grown up and with me the blue house grew too. With both our growth, I realize that as I grew up I already said goodbye to this house and my childhood.
The grey Toyota pulls out of the driveway and away from the house, as it does, the waves of innocence and nostalgia that initially welcomed me are dragged back to sea. With this changing tide I realize that the changes in my life are as frequent and inevitable as the movement of the ocean. Naturally the waves will always rise and fall, and when they fall you always lose what’s left on shore. Like the waves, in life, loosing things is unavoidable; it’s natural and cannot be controlled. As desperately as I want to cling on to my past and childhood in this house, the waves are bond to erase it. No ones childhood is immortal; it is destined to die with the dying waves. Yet, despite the loss the waves produce, the tide always brings change. Although it washes away the past, it’s guaranteed to rise again and with it, it carries new gifts from the sea. Despite my childhood coming to an end by selling this house, it summons the beginning of a new chapter of my life with fresh chances and opportunities in the future. Though the waves had the power to kill my childhood, the waves will never be strong enough to erase the place in my heart where the blue house will live forever.