Dear 1881 Victorian house:
I’m not sure how to break it to you. You’ve been loyal in many ways over the years, but you’ve been a demanding and difficult lover. I fell in love with you at first sight, in the stupid way people do; you were the thing I dreamed of having when I was a little girl. There was nothing practical or sensible about you when we met in 2001, but I jumped in anyway. I did the thing you’re not supposed to do in relationships: I thought you would be perfect if I could just fix you up.
We had many happy years together. Babies were born, children raised, orange embers burned brightly in fireplaces. But you took from me and gave little, constantly demanding more and more care and the costs were so deep and unending. You cost double what you should’ve and like any foolish lover, I gave and gave, thinking one day you’d provide the kind of warmth and comfort I desperately wanted; the thing everyone wants when they think of home. When I see you now, I have a bittersweet mix of feelings: there are so many happy memories, but you’re a monolithic reminder of so much sorrow and stress and hardship as well.
Although I tried with all my heart for a decade and a half, I have to learn to let you go. I can’t let your weight, your needs, your gravity hold me down for the rest of my life. I couldn’t fix you. I hope someone comes along and cares for you the way I did for so many years. But I hope for you that it’s someone who can afford what you demand—someone with the endless ability to give and give to you; I know they will cherish the memories they get in return as I do.
Remember the time the icicles hung from the faucet in the sink? So many Christmas trees in bay windows; the time the stockings were hung by the chimney with care but one of them caught on fire? Luckily the pot of water on the woodstove was there with its cinnamon sticks and orange peels wafting lovely smells as they saved the day and we all laughed. So much laughter in the walls: holidays, baptisms, proms, pool parties, masquerade balls with the neighbors dressed to the nines. I’ll cherish these memories and take with me only the happiness, and forget the not-so-good, the pain and the heartache.
I have no regrets. This breakup won’t be bitter, though it would be awkward to see you again; in fact, I know I’ll have to go far out of my way to be sure I never lay eyes on you after I go. It would be too haunting, too painful to see your vacant eyes and empty soul; or even if you’re not lonely long, to see you with someone else making you happy.
I have fallen in love with someone else. I hate to be so maudlin about the whole mid-life crisis thing and leave you for someone 125 years younger than you—but the promise of affordable warmth, breathing space away from watchful neighbors, space to run forever, a sunset view and freedom from stress and anxiety you didn’t even mean to cause—those things were too great to resist. I’m much older now than when we first met, and can’t grow old with you like I once thought I could.
I’m going to make it quick, like a band-aid, so the pain won’t linger on. Sometimes we have to do what’s best for us even though it’s very difficult to move on. It’s a business decision.
You will continue to haunt me—you’ve left a permanent tattoo on my heart. In many ways—and I hate to go full Whitney Houston with it, but it’s true—I will always love you. I’m sorry for leaving you. But honestly, it’s maybe a little bit me, and mostly you.