Moving out, moving on

I went to “my parents’ house” for the first time this weekend. By that, I mean I went to the house in which I grew up. I can’t call it “home” anymore.

I started referring to college and the house I lived in there as “home” a while ago, given that I spent most of the past four years in Columbia, Mo., but only in the past few months have I truly established my own home. I have a permanent residence now. All my stuff is there. My name is on the lease. I pay all the bills. I’m the only one who lives there.

Home is now Wethersfield, Conn. Crystal Lake, Ill., is now merely the town in which I grew up and in which my parents and little brother live. Not referring to trips to Illinois as “going home” is going to take some getting used to.

Already, several things at “my parents’ house” are different. My older brother moved out and into his own place. My sister has gone off to college. Furniture has changed. A tree is missing from the backyard. The Albert Pujols cover I gave my younger brother is hanging on his wall.

Change can be good, or change can be bad, but mostly it’s just different. But what was actually upsetting was what struck me as my mother’s determined effort to make it very, very clear I don’t live there anymore.

Shortly after my arrival, I was shown to my room, which had gone through a bit of a makeover. Some rearranged furniture, some new decorations, and a lot of cleared out stuff. It looked really good, but it was different. Then I was shown two boxes and three piles of stuff that I needed to “take home or get rid of.”

Now, I understand this is perfectly logical. As my mom said, I don’t live there anymore. I moved out. I have my own place. Those things belong to me. There were even surprise benefits to this process, namely finding my passport and a new/old pair of sunglasses.

But still. I didn’t like it.

First, I don’t want to come home and have to waste some of my very limited time going through my belongings. I want to focus on being with my family, given that I now live many, many miles away and only see them a few times a year. Did I really need to do that right then?

Second, I don’t know what to do with many of my possessions remaining in Illinois. There are a lot of things I want to keep but don’t need right now, things with sentimental value or possible future use but no use in my current life. Couldn’t I just leave that stuff with my parents until I actually need it?

Third, I don’t really have space for these random, not-so-necessary things in my one-bedroom place. And moving with the small amount of possessions I have was bad enough, so I’d like to avoid adding to my load until I’m settled in a more permanent home. Can’t my parents keep my stuff until I’m not in an apartment?

But mostly, being forced to comb through and toss or take home my possessions makes me feel downright unwelcome. It was like, You came home, now make it look like you were never here! Get everything tied to you out of this house! Isn’t there any sentimental value in my things? Doesn’t my mom want to keep some semblance of me around?

I know I’m overreacting to all this, and I know my mom just sees it as cleaning up the house. It’s just that there’s something about coming back to your old home that makes you want it to be the same. You want to feel welcomed and comfortable and right where you belong. You don’t want to feel like you’re being pushed out and are no longer considered part of the household.

But I know that’s silly, and maybe even selfish. I’m changing, so I can’t expect other people and places not to. Plus, I think my mom and I just see this process differently. To her, she’s just clearing out; to me, she’s purging my very presence.

It’s a battle I know I’m going to lose every time, so I went through the boxes and piles, and I’m flying home with an incredibly heavy, book-filled suitcase. I’m not sure how Christmas is going to work, when my mom’s had three more months to empty out my closet and I’ve packed a week’s worth of clothes into my (this time pretty empty) carry-on.

Maybe I can get some clear-out care packages. Mail makes me feel loved.


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