Friday, June 6, 2014

Those Two Houses

There are two houses for sale on opposite sides of North America. Yes, yes, I know – there are many houses up for sale. But these houses are significant. And it’s by pure coincidence and of keen interest to me that their listings were found within a week of each other, especially given their genealogical connection.

It’s very weird, very spooky and very poignant.

On one side of North America is Waltham, Massachusetts, home of my forefathers. My grandmother was born there, her family is from there (or at least in that region), and my dad and aunt were born there.

On the other side of North America is Richmond, BC, the little city on little Lulu Island where my forefathers emigrated to and where I was born and raised.

Within days of each other, we discovered that not only is the house where my dad grew up in Waltham up for sale, but the house where I grew up in Richmond is also up for sale. Yes, these houses have been bought and sold a few times over the years, but this is the first time we could see their listings, and more.

Oh, the miracle of the internet.

Now, for legal reasons, I can’t show you the listings because I am very by-the-book and follow all laws, rules and regulations.

Says me who, during a drive-by-snoop of our old house in Richmond a week before finding the real estate listing, wanted to steal the house number which was nailed to a piece of wood and left leaning, forgotten, against the garage. My dad, being the stand-up kind of guy he is, said ‘no’ to my sticky-fingered temptation. Harumpf....

Over the years I have often imagined walking through our old house. But right then when we were parked outside the house contemplating theft (me) and commenting on the quality of their yard work (Dad), waves of bittersweet nostalgia at the thought of being able to revisit my old room, kitchen, living room and bathroom took my breath away. I had always been curious about the inside but right then, for whatever reason, overwhelming feelings of homesickness and wistful memories had me knowing that if I were to go through there, I would be a puddle of sentimental tears.

(Just thinking about it, here, has my throat tightening in anticipation).

So it was beyond ironic, coincidence and downright spooky that not a few days later, my dad sent me the real estate listing for his old house in Massachusetts – the house I had heard so much about most of my life. Inside photos of the rooms were on the listing, and although they had been remodelled and updated in the old 1920’s house, he said he could still remember the rooms from when he was a kid.

Then, not a few days later, he found the listing for our old house in Richmond – the house I had just driven-by and pined for only a few days before.

(Note: it was built as a bungalow in 1958, and later raised to become a top/bottom duplex in 1974. We lived in the bottom, my grandparents lived in the top)

It was all very weird - two of our houses found for sale in a matter of days.

When I pulled up the listing for my old house, the real estate company’s website had photos of the interior. FINALLY I could see the inside of my old house. With anticipation and trepidation, the same feelings of angst I had had a week or so before at the thought of going through the old house surfacing, I clicked and opened the photos.

And was dismayed.

Nothing looked like how it was when I lived there. Except for the fireplaces on both floors, wall sconces from when I was a kid still on either side of one fireplace, and the layout of one of the kitchens still somewhat recognizable, nothing was the same. Sure I could figure out which room was which based on the view outside each rooms’ window, but that was it. New paint and flooring everywhere as well as new kitchens and bathrooms had the place looking like someone else’s home, entirely. I knew SOMEthings would change over the years, but I hadn’t imagined the concept of not being able to recognize anything.

And I know it’s not MY home anymore.

And just like that, the nostalgic, wistful, sentimental homesick feelings blew out the front door. Sure I had a tinge of disappointment and loss; the house as I knew it from the inside was gone forever. But there was nothing I could do about it.

It wasn’t like I had been pining for my old house all these years, but I had always cherished the thought of it being THERE, exactly as I remembered it.

Things might look the same on the outside, and though the base - the foundation - might still be the same, things change. It happens, and it’s inevitable. Things need upgrading, updating and fine-tuning – inside and out. Sure there is comfort in the knowledge that the house is still there, and no matter what changes cosmetically, it’s still the same house under all the paint, but still......

There have been lots of changes for me lately – lots good, some bad, and some ‘just the way life goes’ - and that house, those changes, were a much-needed reminder to keep moving forward and to accept change. Let go, move on, and get on with things.

I know this is very cliché, but it reminded me, too, that home is where the heart is (you can stop rolling your eyes now). The memories of my home, and all those I have lived in, will always be safe and secure in my memories. Nothing will change those.

Thanks for reading,



  1. Now that is weird. What are the odds of such a thing?! My family home was sold a year ago and it has been completely gutted and renovated. Part of my is curious (very curious!) to see the renovations and the other thinks it's best to just leave the memories as they are.

    1. And you are so right, Ros - best to just leave memories as they are. Wise words from a wise woman! Thank you so much for stopping by!!