Today is the last day we’ll own our house. Tomorrow we go to close and officially begin the transition to a new home, a new neighborhood and a new community. This past week, I’ve found myself trying to take in as much as I could in mental preparation: Watching how the sunlight streams into the living room early Sunday morning, lighting up the wood floor; standing on the driveway in the summer heat, gazing up at the decades-old pines that line our street; smiling as we wave to our neighbors through our kitchen window while eating at the dinner table; looking over O as he sleeps peacefully in the only bedroom he’s ever called his own.
We may only be moving to a different development in the same small town, but it’s hard not to feel like we’re leaving a part of us behind. Over the past five years I’ve gone from a New Yorker who believed tall fences make good neighbors to a Pennsylvanian, one that embraces community and understands what it really means to have – and be – a good neighbor. Since we moved here, O has found surrogate grandparents who save the best yard sale matchbox cars for him. He has grown-up friends who love and delight in him and come over to play t-ball on the lawn. He has little baby friends who look up to him as the “big boy”, something to aspire to.
G and I have a community who genuinely care. They watch out for us and we do the same, whether it’s helping bale out a neighbor’s home after a flood or keeping an eye on a neighbor going through chemo. I have learned a lot about what makes a good neighbor and what it means to be part of a local community. We bring baked goods to those new to our street, paying forward the same kind of warm welcome that we once received. We offer to watch pets and shovel snowy driveways. I am always happy to stop and chat with these friends as they stroll by with their dogs or their strollers – something once foreign to me after years of city life.
It’s hard to say goodbye to the first house we purchased and the first real home we made together. Our friends gathered here. Our families celebrated here. Our son learned to crawl, walk and talk here. We’ve shared many good times and weathered some very difficult times here. Even though it’s only been five years, it feels like an entire lifetime.
In the end, this move is the right one for us – we need more rooms and more green space for O to roam. Over the years, G and I have moved seven times, so we certainly know the drill. We even have friends in our new neighborhood and are looking forward to getting to know them better. That said, I know we’ll never truly cut ties with our little community. We are extremely happy to be selling our current house to my sister-in-law, which means by default, we’re grandfathering in our extended neighborhood family into the deal. We’ve laughed and cried and built meaningful relationships with these people and now that I truly know the value, I’m not willing to let that go.