I’ve never been good at “lasts.”
The last tennis match of every season always felt higher stakes. It was the final opportunity to perfect that shot I’d been working on.
The last day of camp I had to practically be dragged onto the bus, refusing to accept that summer was coming to an end.
The last day of high school? Don’t even get me started. As I drove away from the senior parking lot, surrounded by friends I could easily make plans with the next day, I was hysterical.
There’s just something about “the end” that has always freaked me out. Knowing that any given moment will never be the exact same, with those same people, in that same place, at the same time.
I always knew that my parents were planning to sell our house when I was in college. Once I graduated from high school, there was no reason to stay in our small town or pay the expensive school district taxes. My older sister would be living in Manhattan, I would be at school and virtually nothing would change.
But while the logic of it made complete sense, it didn’t make it any easier to grasp.
In the spring of 2020, the hypothetical “move” I had been in denial about for years was finally becoming a reality. My parents sent me countless photos of the various townhouses they were considering, excitedly pointing out spacious backyards and massive skylights.
While I had glanced at pictures, it wasn’t until this past summer that I finally saw our new place.
Movies and TV shows always depict the notorious “move” as a traumatic moment. The awkward teenage actress packs up her bags, says some tearful goodbyes and uproots her entire life to move halfway across the country. She struggles to make friends initially, until finally finding her way.
Relatively speaking, my 10-minute relocation to the other side of town should have been a piece of cake. I would be driving distance from my best friends, would continue eating at my favorite restaurants and would still be a regular at my go-to coffee shops. Maybe I was just being dramatic after all.
While the physical move was just a few miles, to me, it represented so much more.
Growing up in the same house my whole life, I couldn’t picture living anywhere else. I was accustomed to the notoriously steep driveway that all my friends dreaded pulling out of and to the light switch which was bizarrely placed outside of the bathroom, confusing every guest.
Besides missing the architectural quirks, however, the move signified the end of a chapter. My childhood, in a sense, was coming to a close.
The 10-minute ride to the townhouse felt like an hour. I gazed out the window dramatically, imagining myself starring in a sad music video. Except, of course, I recognized every single thing we passed.
I could sense myself being a buzzkill in the back seat, sitting in silence as my parents gushed about the new place. The suspense was killing me.
Yet, as I stepped into the new townhouse with my mom, dad and sister beside me, things didn’t feel as weird as I anticipated. I was shocked.
Yes, we were, of course, in a different physical location—a different house, with a flatter driveway and a light switch actually located inside the bathroom. Even so, we were still together.
In the least cliché way possible, I realized then that the place doesn’t make the home, the people do. I walked around the kitchen and through the bedrooms, trying to envision my own family settling in the empty space. It wasn’t as difficult to picture as I thought it would be.
I must admit the “last” day in my old house was tough. Through many tears and an obnoxious number of videos, I’ve had to accept that change is inevitable. Though I have yet to officially sleep in my new room, I am looking forward to redecorating and starting the next chapter.
Because while “lasts” can feel finite, permanent and scary, firsts can be exciting.