So, about 2 years ago, I wrote this post, full of lament for the torn down old house. I live in a neighbourhood that is ripe with old homes being knocked to the ground and shiny new houses rising like phoenix' from the ashes.
Imagine my surprise - ok well, sense of mild shame - to be writing this almost 2 years to the day later and watching the steely jaw of a demo digger take a gentle bite out of our roof. 8 hours later, and our beautiful old house was a pile of rubble and dust, encaptured in a steel pen, waiting to be taken away. It was almost shocking how easily the house came down. The digger seemed gentle, and almost human in the way it nudged down brick walls and smoothed out piles of drywall as they fell - sniffing to make sure everything was in the right spot. The innards of the house became exposed to the world: the bright orange wall of the boys' room, sunny yellow hallways and the dingy underbelly of the kitchen sink.
Why tear it down? Our family of 6 had outgrown the house, with 3 growing boys and all their stuff jammed in one small room, toddler toys spilling out into the living room and into the unfinished basement. When everyone was home, chaos ensued and we spent a lot of time moving furniture back and forth to make our life work. And the fact of the matter is, the house was tired. Old, and starting to fall apart. The kitchen and bathroom both seemed to sigh with exhaustion, and the floors were starting to give in spots, so that when you walked through the house you sank gently depending on where you traveled.
We looked at renovation, but the cost of tearing down and rebuilding wasn't much more, and the variables of trying to keep the old (cracked) foundation and working around the (old) structure just wasn't worth it. Most of the people we consulted said: REBUILD. So we gathered our courage (and our bank accounts) and decided to take the plunge.
And as soon as we did - the house rebelled.
The bathroom tub faucet started leaking into the kitchen light fixture, so for 3 months we had showers, and filled the baby's tub with shower water (which, in case you are interested, takes about 3 times as long). Dylan walked out of his bedroom holding his door handle in his hand one morning. The dishwasher started making a funny noise, a bubble appeared in the ceiling upstairs, one by one the light bulbs burned out in the bathroom...and on and on and on. The house was flipping us the bird.
Angry house or not, I will miss it, a little. Many people have commented that it is all good kharma to take the house down and build our dream house from scratch together. My husband also lived there with his first wife, had the 3 boys and lots of shared memories were created. While I never felt her presence in the house - it had been scrubbed clean by the time got there - I never developed a strong attachment to the structure. I *loved* my first house on the Danforth and if I saw it get ripped down, it would hurt. With this house, seeing it crumble ilicited more of a "wow, that's cool" reaction than sadness. Don't get me wrong - we had some wonderful memories in the house - Avery's birth, holidays, family parties, Rockband blowouts and many many more great times. I just didn't love it.
There was one thing I felt an attachment to, and would have been sad to see come down. Just before Avery was born, I put a beautiful little mural on her wall. A little girl, with a dog by her side, surrounded by flowers. Whimsical, colourful, full of energy and life - it was small symbol of some of what I hoped for her. Seeing that come down would have been hard, and I might have shed a small sentimental tear - but I missed that part and now that it is over, I don't feel any lingering emotion.
So upon reflection, I've realized that a house can be a home, but watching our old house come down made me realize that a house is really just a structure, and that it can be taken away in an instant. It's what is inside - the love, the laughter, the stories and the people - that really matter. Everything else is replaceable.