Tears were streaming down my Mom’s face as she turned around from the driver’s seat to take one last look at 3295 Greenway Drive. “Well, say goodbye to the old house, Joe. I guess this is it.”
In my mind, my parent’s move from my childhood home and the house they lived in for 35 years was going to be one of those real-life movie moments, like something out of The Wonder Years. One of those sort of asterisked memories that you tell your kids about later – the time we moved out of my childhood house. I wanted fanfare or something. I wanted the neighbors to all come outside and wave goodbye as we drove into the sunset to the Byrds playing in the background. Instead, Mom was swerving off the road and nearly taking out the neighbor’s mailbox.
“Mom! Eyes on the road!” I shouted as my teary eyed Mom turned off of our street for the last time.
There had been a lot of work involved in getting my parents to that pivotal moment of moving day, most of which my parents took care of on their own, miraculously without killing each other. As soon as the move date was set I had my bus booked. I arrived the day before the move so I could help pack up the last minute things Mom and Dad needed help with - at least that’s what I told them. The real reason, of course, was to make sure my Ghostbusters house and action figures were properly packed and cared for. (Can’t always trust the parents with the well being of some very important plastic people and their place of residence.)
Moving is never easy. As a New York City resident of five years who has pretty much moved every time a 12-month lease has ended, I can attest. But sifting through 35 years worth of crap crammed into two stories of a house in the hopes of “downsizing” is a whole other ballgame. My hopes of taking a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane initially felt more like a trip down There’s Seriously A Ton Of Shit Lane. A random inflatable kayak, a coconut that fell out of a tree on my parent’s honeymoon, multiple strobe lights left over from 70’s basement dance parties, numerous 8-track cassettes, a rotting wooden trailer, the couch a friend of mine threw up on years prior - all needed to go. We got rid of what we could at a surprisingly successful garage sale. The rest tossed or given to Goodwill. Slowly but surely the house emptied. As we cleared away the last boxes of plates and pots in the kitchen, suddenly there was the dinner table that I sat ontop of as a kid to have my hair cut by Dad. There was the kitchen counter where I found my sister’s mace attached to her keychain and decided to spray it in my mouth. I was seven. I was barely a teenager when Benji, the family dog and my best friend, died and we buried him in the backyard. When my high school’s Sno-Ball winter formal was canceled because of a blizzard, I invited everyone to the house in their formal wear. Two years later, the 3rd annual Sno-Ball ended with Becca passed out behind the living room piano and Mom proclaiming there would be no more Sno-Balls. Just a few months ago I said goodbye to that house as Mom almost plowed into the Smith’s front yard.
It’s pretty rare that things play out the way we imagined them to. Most of the time our real lives aren’t written like a movie, and the thing is, I don’t think life is about how many movie moments we can actually realize. I think more often than not, it’s just about being there.