On Desecrating Shrines

The house is slowly being emptied of all my possessions.

Eliza and I will be moving to a much smaller terrace about a half mile away from the old place.

We were starting to feel a little silly knocking about this big place all by ourselves, with the spare bedrooms in our house acting as shrines to our kids’ long-lost childhood.

We’ve been ruling this empty roost for around 5 years or so now since our youngest left to study at University in 2012. Since then we’ve celebrated our independence as much as we’ve commiserated the loss of having our kids. The time has definitely come for us to move on and for us to make a final move.

Ironically, it’ll almost be like starting all over again.

When we move into our little 2-bed place, we’ll only be bringing a few suitcases of clothes.

In addition to the odd wall hanging and potted plant, we’re leaving pretty much all of our white goods and big pieces of furniture here. So when we move into our new place, we’ll have to do what all my kids did when they moved out: make a trip to Ikea.

I can tell that Eliza’s eager to make the move. She’s loved living in this home, but has been itching to get away from it since the kids left home. As soon as we confirmed the move, she began to bring boxes down from the loft and started clearing out rooms.

Eliza thrives under a large workload. Suddenly, just like me, she had a million and one jobs to get done. Before I knew it, the precious shrines that were once living tributes to my children had been cruelly pulled apart and packed into boxes.

Empty rooms make voices echo in an unnatural way.

Now, when we shout to each other from other ends of the house, our voices bounce off the walls with a rigid reverb that just seems wrong. Still, it’s exciting to be making a change and it’s fun to see the house in this dressed down style.

With every box that we shift out of the house, it becomes a little bit less ours and a bit more our daughter’s. Now all that remains are the scuffs, marks and holes in the walls – markers of childhood and experience that will soon be erased with the next few weeks’ work.

The kitchen has been completed.

The units have been completely cleaned and matching knobs have been screwed in. The floor is set and the refurbished furniture is now sitting pretty in the centre of the room. Looking at it in this pristine state, I’m struck by how similar it looks to the kitchen of my childhood.

The red bricks on the floor have been brushed clean, revealing a bright terracotta that gives the whole room a vibrant feel. The freshly painted cream walls compliment this, simply adorned with the quaint Pastoral paintings that my own Mother bought at a flea market when she was a child.

What Eliza and I have done with the last few months has been a cathartic and tough experience. We have attempted to create a historical reproduction of my childhood home, effectively erasing our existence from the place.

What remains is a slightly modernised version of the home that my Father built.

This is a house that will be the stage for my Grandchildren’s childhood and will continue to be the base of our family for the next 50 years.