A Moving Story

6 A house is not a home

Andy and Dave are racing to finish the move on the last day. They have to visit another location before they can return to Bristol and refuse all offers of refreshment apart from tea. Rugs are rolled, pictures are packed and furniture shifts at speed. I halt the disappearance of bathroom toiletries and toothbrushes minutes before they vanish into a packing case and then realise that a vital box of tissues in the kitchen has also gone.
Non-perishable groceries in the pantry are boxed, but my home-made Christmas pudding, made last November on Stir-up Sunday and saved for this December, is rejected. I wrap it and give it to my daughter for safe keeping and good eating this Christmas.
Andy thinks they’ve nearly finished clearing the house then calls to Dave to deal with ‘the lady’s work station’. He means the ironing board. But finally the last load – garden hoses, wheelbarrow and garden statues – are lifted onto the lorry and they leave. We shan’t see the contents of our old home again for some time.
And now the house is empty, apart from the kettle, two mugs and a couple of spoons. The good curtains have been folded away and no chairs remain, only the built-in window seats. As each room was cleared we wiped away the maps of fluff on walls where furniture had stood undisturbed for many years, cleared cobwebs from ceilings and curtain poles and swept the brick and wooden floors clear of dust and cat hairs.
The bare rooms echo and seem larger than before. And as we do a final check we discover hidden possessions we still have to take with us; a name plate on a bedroom door, a rustic candlestick on a windowsill, a row of cat-shaped hooks behind a door and an old Christmas decoration hanging from a window latch.
But at last we are satisfied. And as we look around again at the empty house we realise it is no longer our home. Stripped of our possessions it is but an empty shell; the shadows of paintings on the walls, the footprint of the dresser on the kitchen floor, the wisp of tinsel by the dining room fire are just ghostly remnants of the life we once lived.

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