My first memory of my Grandma Helen happened in this house. I was walking up the stairs and could see her cat outside the window. I remember tiny glass bottles in the windowsill.
We celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Hanukkah in this house.
I had my baby-shower for Omari in this house, and a slumber party where we watched Dirty Dancing and froze the VCR to try to catch a glimpse of Patrick Swayze’s naked butt on the television.
My 8th grade graduation party happened in this yellow house. We danced and my teenage cousin, Mwanza, chaperoned and told me that under no circumstances was I to sit on William’s lap.
So William and I went outside to sneak and kiss in the laundry room.
My grandparents argued at dinner around the huge oval glass table in this house. My grandmother would often remember stories differently than my grandfather who would interrupt saying, “No, Helen, that’s not what happened.”
We laughed in that house. We cried in that house. We watched fireworks and the bridge and life.
In fact, when we were younger we used binoculars to snoop on the neighbors.
We lived in that house.
We were a family in that house.
But in life all things change.
My grandmother recently sold her home. The only home that’s ever been a constant in my life (and likely many of my cousins’ lives). She bought it when I was nine months old and lived in it up until shortly after my grandfather died two years ago.
It’s funny the way that we can be attached to material things, like a gold locket inherited from an aunt, or a collector car that someone’s dad once owned, or a book.
Or a house.
This old San Francisco Victorian house with huge backyard and view of the city that kept us warm and together. The house where roses always seemed to be in bloom.
It’s funny how this one act – my grandmother selling her home – has remind me that I am older. I never imagined not having special holidays in this house. I never imagined not being a family in this house, and how the only constant “home” I have ever known will be someone else’s.
Likely some hipster family who will strip the vintage uber cool wallpaper, drink espressos on the balcony, and bulldoze the bottom half of the house to make parking for their European or eco-friendly cars.
But hopefully they will keep the roses.
Because it seemed like the roses were always in bloom and have you ever heard of a garden with roses that are always in bloom?
Surely it must be a magical garden, the soil still rich with the love and energy that my grandfather planted and tended it with.
And hopefully they will build a family there, in the house that was my grandmother’s house. And hopefully they will love in that house, and throw tinsel on each other while decorating the tree on Christmas Eve.
Maybe sometimes they’ll argue over the dinner table because one of them doesn’t remember the story the same way as the other. And they will live, and be a family. In this house.
That was our house.
That is now their house.
Ladybug and I said goodbye to the house, and the roses, and the wallpaper. We sat in the garden and we laughed and smiled. We closed the door one last time and walked out with our memories and the reminder that life goes on. It’s really the memories that bind us to things – not the things themselves.
None of us will ever forget the house or the time that we spent there as a family.
Because you can close the door on a house, but you can’t close the door on family, or love.