I stood there in the middle of the living room looking at the empty house. It looked like somebody sucked the life out of it but still it was inviting me, “stay one more night”.
For a little over ten years my wife Afsaneh and I lived in our Orange County home. It was a new home when we moved in. Like many newly weds, it lacked furniture and proper dÈcor throughout. But by the end of ten years, everything seemed to belong. All the couches, chairs, pictures, vases, and colors seemed to have found a way to merge.
In that moment, standing in the middle of the house, the whole history passed in front of my eyes, like a slow movie. It seemed like the house was never empty. Even though we don't have any children and our parents don't live with us, the house was always full.
It was a “half-way” house for so many. For that one cousin who broke up with her boyfriend and came over to stay for a few days to cry her eyes out; for that other cousin who separated from her husband and stayed with us with her wonderful little girl and her mom, my aunt; for that brother-in-law, who also stayed with us with a broken heart; the other brother-in-law, who stayed with us for a year and I don't know why; and even at the very end for the lovely single mother who didn't have anywhere else to go and stayed with us for a month or so and made us fall in love with his little boy. They all left something behind. Some left a few sox and underwear, but for the most part, memories.
Lovely, and at times, ears piercing sounds of children, sound of father-in-law, who would get up real late in the mornings and would pleasantly kiss me on the forehead. Sounds of that damn squicky garage door, that I could never fix. Sounds of sprinklers that went off early in the morning. Sounds of Persian music from the next door neighbors, who moved in about a year ago and were absolutely a delight. They will all be missed.
It was a place of gathering. So many friends, who would bring their girl friends and boy friends for us to see and approve. So many relatives, who truly made us happy by staying with us and allowing us to share what we had with them.
The door to the house was always open to just about anyone. All of our friends and relatives knew where the key was or what was the code for the garage door opener.
There were countless nights when we would gather with some friends and their friends, whom we had just met, around the fireplace, play music, tell jokes, read Hafez, or just stare at the fire.
The house was such a house. It was like an old and kind grandmother. She was always inviting with open arms, entertaining, full of love, and always had something to eat. Most of our family/friends would mention that when they stayed with us, it seemed like we were always eating!
The house, even though not sold, will be missed. Even if we moved back into it, it would never be the same again.
The winter Sunday morning breakfasts, when I couldn't play soccer with the guys, or Abgoosht (Lamb Stew) gatherings. The dinner parties, little lunch get togethers with friends, kids birthday parties, more dinners, and more dinners…
The family room was the center of the house. The big, comfortable sectional and big screen TV, who would put anyone to sleep at any time, even during the World Cup football final. The many nights by the heater outside, where we would sit and talk until early hours in the morning or until the neighbors started complaining.
Last but not least, the love my wife and I have for one another, which rooted and gathered strength in that house. All and all make a package we left behind in the house.
We moved to Las Vegas and as it was expected, the first three days of our inhabitance, two of our friends with family were with us and another good friend, who happened to be in town spent the day with us yesterday. So, it seems like we're up and running. It is as if we left a sign at the old house that reads, “we moved to a new location, please come and see us. You know where the key is!”
So, for all of those whom we didn't get a chance to say good-bye or simply did't want to, since it is a bit painful, we'll see you in Vegas. The key is still in the light fixture at the front door and the code for the garage door opener is the same, 6969#!
Hamid & Afsaneh
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