Hard Won Freedom

Very soon, the house in which I grew up, will be for sale.  This house has not seen a for sale sign in over 50 years so this could be viewed as an historic event.  I lived in this house from my first day of birth until 4 months and 6 days after my 19th birthday.  I moved out then and I never moved back.  Boys hang around home far too long.  Girls get out as soon as possible.  This is not a “letter home” of nostalgia or yearning or romanticism.  The house will be sold soon and I feel nothing because I have never felt an attachment to it.  The house held so much pain for such a long time that I can’t honestly say I liked living there.  As soon as I could, I fled.  There were rules in place under the roof of that house and those rules were based on religious dogma.  Those rules only made my resolve to leave stronger.  Control is a terrible thing.  Control left me feeling nothing for the house I grew up in.

The house was old and creaky, out of date and out of style.  Freezing cold in the winter, searing hot in the summer.  My mother knew very little about interior decorating.  (How can you when you are raised Amish Mennonite?)  Nothing made sense to me – not the colours, the wallpaper, the paint, the furniture.  I didn’t like how anything looked.  My bed was half the size of a single bed.  I’m lucky I was small.  I never had my own room or my own space.  I never had privacy.  My phone conversations were listened to by my mother.  I was monitored and questioned.  Freedom was a foreign concept that I yearned to someday have.  I was forbidden from doing anything that a normal kid wanted to do.  Some Mennonite sects have a tradition whereby at the age of 2, they begin to break the will of the child.  The child grows up with no willpower, but rather a sense of serving the community.  I can admire that commitment to community.  But my mother failed to break my will.  Those 19 years and 4 months and 6 days were a constant battle of the wills.  When I was 11 years old, my mother and I were fighting: I was fighting for freedom and she was fighting for control.  My mother wanted to know how many days I had not liked living at home.  I scribbled on paper: 11 years X 365 days = 4,015 days.  Kids are so cruel.  My mother was devastated when I showed her my calculation.  It shocks me today that I could write such a thing, but it’s absolutely how I felt. 

And now that house is going to be sold soon & I don’t feel anything.  It’s in such a state of disrepair.  My mother moved out 2 years ago.  I have not seen it since she left and I don’t want to. My brother lives there and he is too selfish to care about its maintenance.  It’s now a house inhabited by a mad man.  I can’t wait for it to be sold.  Everything changes. I left and then 26 years later, my mother left too.  I got an email from her today. (At 82, she emails me.  Of course, the day I left was the day everything started to get better between us.  She lost her control and I gained my freedom and it’s as it should be.)  She told me that she loves living in her apartment. She said it’s one of the best places on earth and it feels like a millionaire’s home to her.  Since I left that house, I have liked most houses  that I’ve lived in – some I have even loved.  But that first one, it didn’t work out so well.

Habitation: 1964 – 1983

Purchase For: $9000

Sold For: TBD

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