The last of the furniture was carted away by removalists earlier this morning. All that’s left is a scatter of half-used cleaning products in the centre of the loungeroom. After hours of wiping and scrubbing, the house glows with love and care, ready for tomorrow when the new owners to take possession.
My husband has gone on ahead with the removalists to our new property, a few hours away in the country. I’m here alone, except for the cat, Charlie, who anxiously follows me from room to room.
I drag the old single mattress which sags in the centre to the bedroom wall, where this morning our king-size ensemble was located. The removalists have accidentally taken the vacuumed-packed sheets and doona, so I’ll be sleeping on the bare mattress in my clothes with my bathrobe over the top to try and stay warm.
This is my last night in what has been our home in the city for ten years. It’s also the last night where meals can be home delivered, so I treat myself ordering Chinese online.
No longer filled with our furniture, paintings, books, and belongings, the house already feels less ours. Yet I’m still here, clinging to this out-dated version of what home is.
Of course our new house is not yet a home. I barely remember it as our only inspection was more than three months ago. I’m a little scared of the house – I recall dust, musty and perhaps mousey smells, spider webs, filthy carpets, towering raked ceilings, and … ‘potential’.
I imagine the new house sitting silently awaiting me, windows murky, accessible via dirt road and far from the lights, sirens, and city busyness I’m accustomed to.
This is the reason I’m here alone tonight.
I exaggerated the need to stay and further tidy up for our purchasers. Secretly, I wanted my husband to go before me to tame the spectre of the new house, the wild unknown as I’ve built it up in my mind.
‘Will you be scared, staying in the new house by yourself?’ I’d asked my husband.
‘Hah, don’t be silly.’
‘How’s it going?’ I text.
He replies: ‘It’s raining and the lights are off. I’m standing, walking, looking, listening and learning.’
I picture this, him becoming aquainted with our new house. His senses stretching as an aura around him in the dark. Alert to each sound. The creaks and groans as the house settles for the night.
Will our new house nurture, support and inspire us?
Will I come to love our new house? Will it become a home?
Tomorrow, the house and I will be introduced as my husband will have already been there twenty-four hours. He’ll have some observations and stories to share.
My Chinese meal arrives, and I settle on the mattress, the cat purring and curled against my leg. Just for five minutes I cling to the normality and stability this home has provided.
I’m apprehensive moving to a community where we know no-one, to look after a patch of land we know nothing about. To a country house beyond the reach of town water and sewer services. What has been a long- held dream is now very real.
I wonder if my husband’s completed a circuit of the building, explored outside as well as every room? Does he hear the rain on the roof flowing into the water tank, or are the gutters choked with leaves and overflowing – the first indication of a house more neglected than we’d anticipated. There’s so much for this house to reveal.
How’s my husband feeling there alone? Does he hold fears? Overwhelm? Regrets?
Then another text arrives from him.
‘I think we are going to fill this house very well,’ he says simply.
And my oppressive blanket of uncertainty immediately feels lighter. After an evening of second guessing our treechange decision, I’m again looking forward to our adventure together, which for me, starts tomorrow when Charlie and I drive to our new country home.