Saturday, May 13, 2006

The end of an era

I said goodbye to childhood friends today. After something like 17 years, a family that I grew up with is moving to North Carolina. They were my second family growing up; when my brother spent weeks at Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C., they took me in. And when I think back on 12 years of homeschooling, their home is always the setting that comes to mind. Writers' groups, music recitals, science experiments . . . they were all there, in that mid-nineteenth century home filled with books, eclectic antique furniture, and friends.

It was there that we staged impromptu plays, in which the characters were created and determined largely by what costume the actors selected. We stayed up late during sleepovers, talking about our favorite books and solving the world's problems. Saying goodbye to friends is difficult. I know I'll see them again . . . someday. But for me, it was even harder to say goodbye to that place, walking through the hilly yard, past the tree swing, the cherry trees, and the badminton net. The neatly stacked boxes lining each naked wall signaled, for me, the end of an era. I'm not a homeschooler anymore, and I'm certainly not a child. It's strange that this should affect me this way; I'm not usually one to get sentimental about every little thing. But this house was, for me, a place where I could always come back. And although it's been years since I last slept over, studied history, and snacked on tea and snickerdoodles within its walls, I can't help feeling sad that those doors are no longer open to me.

But (as I am so good at doing) I will move on. That house will be elevated to the rose-colored realm of happy memories, and I will enter a new phase, complete with new memory-making potential.

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