The Danders. My go to sanctuary. My dream home. The palace of parties, people, friends, occasions, families, of life, and death. Making endless memories in this particular house was about to end. At Christmas 2021 I didn’t even know it was going to be the last time I’d dress each room with Santas, Rudolph, baubles and trees. As we packed away the twinkling lights in January 2022, little did we know they’d be adorning somewhere else in December. Somewhere smaller, somewhere not here. Somewhere not the Danders.
When we bought this house, we threw caution to the wind, yes it was more expensive, yes it needed lots doing, yes it was old and draughty. But I was in heaven. It was my most dreamt about dream, my very own unique, vintage and quirky home. And we worked our fingers to the bone to make it special. We were not the first owners, but the second family to have lived there since it was renovated from a derelict building in 1972. We brought it back to life with colour, restored its windows, added a fireplace, renovated its kitchen, improved the bathrooms, laid new floors, added new doors and made it warm and cosy.
Then the Lion suggested it was time to sell. A bell tolled. I felt the weight of my love for this home crushed by his pragmatic and sensible reasoning. The walls seemed to ache with depression at the very thought of us parting, closing in on me to prevent me leaving. The doors creaked painfully with every sigh I uttered, non-accepting of the decision I had not wanted to make. I was bereft. I would lie still in bed, listening to the sounds of the house in the dark. The wind, as it hurled through the garden on its way to the ocean, seemed to circle a little longer than usual enveloped by my sadness and the inevitability of our departure, it relished the change I was struggling to accept.
The sign was erected, piercing the fence, stabbing at my heart knowing this was the end and standing erect and proud as if it was all it could do. I couldn’t face showing anyone my home. Pretending it was all so perfunctory when inside I was melting away with the memories. Each time a visitor arrived we’d make ourselves scarce and ponder the outcome. A little bit of bitterness crept into my thinking. But I also knew, as the Lion did, it was time.
Then suddenly it was sold. The packing was arranged, decluttering underway. Items, too large for the downsize, left to the new owners. The rooms, empty and hollow, the floors echoing the footsteps of 350 years of memories. We were only part of the story. A small but insignificant aspect of its history.
As I walked through the rooms, checking everything was in order, I felt a swelling in my throat. I coughed but only managed to splutter before the emotions escaped, breaking out of the chains tethering them to my heart. Running amok I was shocked to hear myself sob loudly. I recognised the loss of this part of me was a cumulative memory of the children’s laughter, the friends, the family times, the loss, the arrivals, the Christmases, the dinner parties, the memories of good times we’d had here. As I turned the key in the lock for the last time I knew a little of my heart would always be here. And where we had left our mark.