I'm a pretty emotional person, so when my parents told me they were selling our childhood home, I was a little surprised by my reaction. I was happy for them, of course. I was happy they were able to move into a condo they loved. It was a place they didn't have to address shoveling or a manicured lawn. A place where they could have conveniences only a condo could offer them. It was their new dream home, to take them into their twilight years. Fortunately, the move went smoothly, and long story short, they feel very socially connected and happy in the new place they call home.
But, the reaction on Facebook to my parents' move was pretty striking. Old childhood friends were sad to learn my parents would no longer be living in the home we so proudly called our own. After all, it was a place where they, too, shared special memories in their youth.
One party in our home even led to two people meeting and ultimately getting married. In spite of this reaction from old friends, when asked, I still, held on to my "happy for my parents" stance. That is until I began to collaborate with Coldwell Banker Real Estate.
I teamed up with Coldwell Banker to work and study the psychology of real estate, specifically homeownership, in a post-recession marketplace. Life can be so funny. I found out after I was hired to work on this project that Coldwell Banker was the real estate company who sold my parents' house, but I digress.
I'm not sure if it was the research involved for this project -- which indicated that home ownership is still a very strong component of what we consider the "American Dream" -- or the experience of emotionally revisiting what it meant to grow up in a family-owned home which brought back all the feelings I so successfully had suppressed. It's not unusual for me to experience delayed emotional reactions. I'd had a recent dream or two where I was back in my childhood home. Of note, I haven't lived there since I was 18 years old and went off to college. The time had clearly come to allow myself to fully go down memory lane.
While our home on Van Doren Avenue wasn't the biggest home in town, in fact it was quite small, we were very happy there.
It was a place where our family and childhood friends shared many memorable moments. Some funny, some sad, some normal, but regardless of what experiences we had, our home became the womb which helped our family to grow up and ultimately become the people who we are today.
This little yellow house was more than just a house; it was a place we felt love for and kinship. It was the place where we would share intimate stories about our lives. The place my sisters and I would stare outside our bedroom windows for hours, just to see what our neighbors were up to. The screen porch on a late summer evening was a place to socialize and share dreams with our family and friends.
And the kitchen was a place to do our hair before going off to school, chat about boys (I lived in a house of all girls, with the exception of my father), and a place to eat very bad food; my mother never was a very good cook!
Yes, homes are the silent members of our family. They are part of the history of our family. This is what makes saying goodbye to them so tough. Our house is not just a building with four walls. It's a place where you grow memories, hopefully beautiful ones; your home is a memory you can keep with you forever. Fortunately, I learned those memories don't get lost once the ownership of that home is passed on to another family.
My childhood home is now owned by a young family starting life's journey, just as we did years ago. They too moved into the little yellow house with their little girl just as we once did. I can only hope that their memories are as rewarding and beautiful as mine. As in touch as I am with my feelings of loss, I am happy to know the torch has been passed on to another family who can create their own special memories.
What did I learn professionally from all of this? People have a strong desire, even after the recession, to own a home and have a place they can call their own. Owning a home is more than a financial investment, it's an investment of one's heart and one's dreams. Well done, Mom and Dad. Thank you for picking a home so perfectly suited for our family's need to grow and thrive.
For more by Robi Ludwig, click here.
For more on wisdom, click here.
Follow Robi Ludwig, Psy.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drrobiludwig