The day after the packers

You walk in and the house looks like a tip. Your heart sinks at the sight of the cardboard fragments and tiny strips of packing tape stuck to the floors, knowing you’ll soon be kneeling on the marble tiles, scrubbing them off. The walls hold shadows of your furniture and the house is eerily silent. Mechanically you attack the walls, the floors, cleaning away until every trace of you has gone. But you can’t erase the memories. And this is the day that I usually come undone.

When we moved from The Hague, I went from room to room, mop in hand, blubbering like a small child who’d lost their favourite toy. I was bereft, as this was one place I did not want to leave. All my kids were born here – we had a real connection to the country.

This time though, I wasn’t particularly emotional and I’m not sure why. Perhaps because we’re moving home for good? Maybe I’d become inured to our temporary existence? Or perhaps I was so cranky with our grasping, greedy landlord that I didn’t have time to be sad? Despite the house being in a much better state than when we moved in, I was still worried about the handover because despite our best efforts, she’d still find something to moan about.

Anyway, I thought once the kids were here and saw the empty house, the full impact of the move would hit them and we’d have a good old cry together about leaving. Wrong again.

Them: “Cool, I can do cartwheels in the lounge room!” “No, let’s play tag, there’s more room now…”

Me, screaming: “Don’t touch the walls, we’ve just spent the day cleaning them!”

I watched carefully for a reaction, which was pretty hard as they were bounding from room-to-room, their laughter echoing loudly off the empty walls. The only tears occurred when one of them ran into a doorframe.

Perhaps it’s just time to go home?


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