Community

How Cleaning Out My Old House Created a Community

creating a community
We moved this hall tree from my old house into our new one.

This past Saturday was the end of an era. After owning our childhood home in Purchase, NY for 30 years, it finally sold. Getting over this emotional hurdle was one thing, but there was an even bigger challenge: The contents inside hadn’t moved since 1985.

This was going to be a massive undertaking.

If you’ve ever emptied out an entire house, there are two good ways to go about it. A) Pay a company to move everything, or B) call on everyone you know and make an all-hands-on-deck, weekend-long, moving adventure.

We chose B.

My father’s friends, my brother’s friends and my family and friends all descended on the house like soldiers on a mission. We had 15-20 people in and out of the house for two days moving furniture, cleaning out drawers, watching the kids, playing with the dogs, and supporting us as we went through my mother’s things for the last time.

Everyone who helped had a reason to be there. Besides supporting us, they too had a memory of that house. Whether it was play dates after school, family meals, holidays, or just spending a Saturday morning eating bagels, the house was a vessel for memories that went far beyond my immediate family.

A wide variety of people came to the house that weekend. Friends since our elementary school days, friends of friends I’ve hardly (or never) met, new babies and puppies, and of course, close family and friends. People came from upstate and downstate and other states, too. This event shaped a new community in itself, coming together for one common cause that affected everyone.

The experience was a whirlwind and at the end of the weekend, the house was completely emptied to prepare for a successful closing. It’s a sad time for me and my family, but as I reflect back, I think about the love and memories from that house. I believe that’s why everyone came together to help.

We may have stripped the house clean, but one thing we can never remove is the memories. That is something we will all take with us. It bonds us. And with this community coming together, this past weekend was another memory for the books.

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