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The metaphor of an empty house

After I published Born Loser (available now for only a buck, go get it), I realized I accidentally re-used a metaphor I'd already put into Bitter People Without Souls.  There's a part where somebody's moving out of their house, and they stop to reflect on the emptiness they're leaving behind.

It's not exactly the finest metaphor out there - I know.  That moment is not meant to be the high point of either book, just a background detail to flesh out what's going on with their lives.  To me, it's the kind of thing that immediately lands.  You see an empty house, one that was yours, and you know instantly that life is permanently changing.

....or so I thought, until I started packing up this house.

Granted, it's not quite "empty" yet.  Much of the furniture is still in place and we haven't taken out any of the basic essentials needed to live here.  But all our books, all our DVDs, all our framed photos and ornaments and other details that tell you, "This is who we are, and this is where we live" - all of that's packed up and either in storage or waiting to go in storage.

Every other time I've moved, even if it was just leaving my dorm room between semesters at college, I was struck with overwhelming bittersweet.  All memories I had in those places were forever tinged by a sense of loss, that unfixable feeling that no, you can't go back there and do it again.

Even within this house I felt that.  Back when we were fixing things up and finished the master bedroom, then moved all our stuff upstairs, I remember feeling such heavy nostalgia for "that year we slept in a different bedroom."

And now... nope.  None of it.

I'm trying to process what that means.  There's a superficial part of me that wants to be cynical about it.  "Bah, this house has too many problems, I'm not going to miss it."  But that's not true - I am absolutely going to miss this house and this city, no matter how many demons it has.  It's just a different type of miss this time.  I don't feel like I'm losing anything.

I often tell myself that nostalgia isn't a longing for things or events that you've left behind, but rather a longing to return to the simpler lifestyle you remember.  That TV show you loved as a kid?  It's not that great - but when you first watched it, you had no responsibilities or cares, and that's the thing you miss so much.  So, no, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles isn't the thing that brought you comfort.  It was being a kid that you miss, and you just use your dumb cartoon as a lens to focus the pain of growing up.

I still think that's true, and that's probably why things feel different now.  The transition I'm making now isn't one from childhood to adolescence or adolescence to post-adolescence or post-adolescence to adulthood or adulthood to parenthood.... it's just from Tuesday to Wednesday, and with a slightly different bedroom.  My responsibilities aren't going to be any different.  My challenges, while a little easier to manage, won't be much different.  The things that bring me joy will still be with me.

I think - I hope - this means I'm finally past the point where nostalgia is going to sway me.  I don't want to be one of those old bastards late in life that goes, "Oh, things were so much better back in my day," totally oblivious to the fact that if I'm still breathing, it's still my day.  I want to be present in every moment, enjoying my life now and taking the past with a grain of salt.  I don't have time for empty houses to get me down.

...but who knows, maybe I'll be bawling like a baby during the final walkthrough.  I'll keep you posted.