After six years and the addition of three more children, our family of eight has outgrown our current home. We’re not languishing in a scorching desert of misery, but another bathroom and some additional storage space feels like an oasis, and a bit of additional square footage could be a cup of cold water to some of the friction-induced battles that seem to be set ablaze each day. We are looking forward to our new house, but, for all its shortcomings, we will miss our present home.

They say that you fill the space you live in, and we have certainly done that. Every cupboard is utilized and closets that once were ideal spots during a game of hide-and-seek now offer no crevices to crouch in. The main storage closet we have reflects my Tetris skills, though that means that some boxes are only accessible after the majority of the others are rearranged or removed. And let’s not talk about the tubs of clothes that are consistently rotated from season to season as children move from one size to the next.

But it will all be gone in about a month, whether retired to the trash bin, recycled at the local thrift store, or rumbling down the road to our new house. I’ve already taken the pictures off the walls, a symbolic act of relinquishing our hold on this space we inhabit. There’s still much that needs packed in cardboard, but in my mind’s eye I can see our empty home, the walls relaxing a bit after having been continually stretched through the years.

While a home can become too small to hold people and possessions, it would seem that it never reaches a capacity for retaining the memories of those who live there. How many bedtime routines and Saturday morning breakfasts have we shared with those walls? The rooms have stood as witnesses to births and birthdays, to joys and sorrows, to laughter and anger and every human emotion. After time away, this was the place we returned to as home. We have slept in peace under its roof and found it a place of respite and refuge through storms and trials and the general fatigue of life. This brick and mortar have marked us, and we have left our mark on every inch this property, inside and out.

But soon someone else will move into our home, and it will soak up and retain their memories just as it did the people before us and so on to the family that moved in when it was days old. And as they move in, we will enter a home filled with 16 years of memories from the previous owners, along with countless others, all the way back to the man who recalls digging the basement that my children will fill with games of make-believe. And none of these structures languish under the weight of all the reminiscences; they hold them all effortlessly.

We’ll walk out of our current home for a last time on a not too distant day. The place that was ours will suddenly be a place we would be trespassing on if we walked in the backyard. And yet we will still lovingly haunt the halls and the rooms. Our memories will remain, secrets between us and the carpet and drywall and doors. Will the house shed any tears as we leave? Certainly not. But we will certainly shed tears for it. May it keep our memories for us, because we will never forget it.

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