Saturday, November 7, 2009

Leaving Home and Leaving a Part of Myself

Two weeks before my 25th birthday I bought a condo. It was a big step, but I was ready to move out on my own. It is a two bedroom garden style with a postage stamp yard, small kitchen and a fireplace. The walls were Pepto Bismal pink with pink carpet and the place was dirty, but it was all mine. After a couple of weeks of cleaning and painting I moved in with a new couch, hand-me-downed bed and a few borrowed pieces of furniture. Twelve years later it is not just a condo, but my home. I turned the place into my quiet haven. Each room has a touch of myself in it. Not only the sweat equity of painting the rooms, but pieces of my personality. I have created gardens in the front and back and made this place and the surrounding area truly my own.

Now on the eve of moving out, I look around and remember hanging each picture, picking out the curtains, making the cork wreath, taking and printing photographs and so much more. This place, my home is filled with memories and mementos of my life and travels, but also those of my family and friends.

Tomorrow I am moving into my parent’s house. Back into the home that has been in my family for over forty years and the bedroom where I spent my adolescence. I am moving home to my parents because as each day blooms, my cancer spreads and my body deteriorates. I am no longer able to be alone or take proper care of myself.

I gave up driving two months ago. I still use the car to drive the ¼ mile to the village center and get my Starbucks, prescriptions or a few groceries a couple times a week, but it is my parents that are driving me around to my appointments. As of tomorrow I will not be driving at all.

Giving up driving was hard enough, needing to use a cane even harder, but none of that compares to the loss of independence that is involved with moving back home. I am 37 years old, and with the exception of a couple of months while a friend stayed here, I have lived alone for over 12 years. I have been spoiled with the ability to come and go when I please, played my music as loud as I wanted, cooked whatever I craved and reveled in my quiet time. For those of you that have lived alone you know what is like. You can do whatever you want including leaving your dirty laundry on the floor, the dishes in the sink and shoes by the front door if that is what pleases you.

My parents are being great about me coming back to live with them. They are rearranging their house so that I may have my own space with some my stuff around me. But it won’t be the same as having my own room when I was growing up, because it is just more evidence of how my life is changing. I am happy that my parents live 15 minutes away and I will still be able to keep stuff in my house and can stop and get what I need or spend time here. I know it is the right thing to do, but damn it, why does the right thing sometimes have to be so hard.

I am going to miss my house, going to miss having all the little reminders of my life for the past twelve years within an arm’s reach. So tonight I mourn. I mourn for the loss of my independence, for leaving my home – my space of comfort and leaving behind so many of my possessions and I mourn for my declining health.

I remember the day I signed my name for what seemed like a thousand times that made me (and the bank) the official owner of my own home. I remember the trepidation, the excitement and the how if felt to know that I was starting a new chapter in my life. Tonight, I know that I am not starting anew, but in the process of finishing the last chapter of my life. They say you can’t go home again, but I am. It is not lost on me the symbolism of the return to where I grew up. I am closing the circle of my life. I started in my parent’s house and that is where I will end.


Anonymous said...

you have such strength, you are truly an inspiration.

Joe Schneider

Pat Steer (Gaelen) said...

Alli - at every scan, I give my NYC oncologist a quick look. I've already been through one recurrence. I knew, going into the scan, that something wasn't right, and I knew as soon as Dr. Personality bustled into the office that something with that scan wasn't right. Now, with each scan, I have a second or two to size her up, gauge her attitude, check her eyes. The last time something was wrong, all of those things told me her news before she did. I don't know why I want that second to 'prepare' for what can't be prepared for, but I take the chance, every time.
As I sit on the couch in my own condo, bought 11 years ago, I know that at some point I may be in your shoes. I don't know how I'll handle that moment - but I hope I have some of your emotional grace.
I cannot imagine all of your thoughts, but I'm grateful that you're willing to share them with us. My strongest thoughts, Alli. Every day.

Kim Uffmann said...

I really hope it is as smooth of a transition as possible. You are with those who love you, and that is a blessing in itself- though perhaps not the one you were looking for.

I still have the Booty stickers, so send me your parents address, and I will send them to you.

Miss our weekly chats- when you get settled, let's restart?

Anonymous said...


We need your parents' address so we can send you stuff~

We'll be in touch for lunch/dinner out.

Breakfast was so much fun at Mimi's.

We are with you in spirit ;)

Janet and Phil

Eliott said...


We met at 24-hours of Booty (I was the crazy blonde lady who recruited people to ride and push the rickshaw on Sunday). Anyway, I just discovered your beautifully written and inspiring blog, and found that we have much in common: Golden Retrievers, Birkenstocks, the Episcopal church, cycling, being outdoors, and being in love with our nephews. So, if you're in the mood to have a new friend in your life, I'd love to hang out sometime.


Kris said...

I am glad to read that you gave yourself time to mourn; that's an important step in the process. I'm glad too, even though you've had to move out, that you had those 12 years in your condo; that you were able to make it your own and revel in the beauty and comfort you created.

I continue to be in awe of your strength and insight, and I am thankful that I have had the chance to get to know you. I'll be in touch again soon.

It seems to me that your move home is part of the full circle of live. Blessings to you and your parents.