Every night when I crawl into bed I close my eyes and pretend I’m in my old room at the beach.

I don’t think this is healthy.

I don’t care.

Three months ago I cleaned my way out the back door, stood up and paused with my hand on the knob. I couldn’t bring myself to do it and sat back down, staring into the empty kitchen. How did this happen? I knew when I stood up it would be the last time I’d ever close the door. I wasn’t ready. Instead I turned around and stared at the empty deck, the formerly plant-filled sanctuary I’d poured so much of my time, energy and love into. My heart sunk. Deep breath in, deep breath out.

You have a whole house!
My drunk neighbor Laurie pulling her car into the open moving pod someone left blocking our garage
You have a soaker tub!
“Carrie the police are on their way and I’m going to need you to talk to them because I’ve had some wine.”
You have a big yard! 
Monkey and Lil sunbathing under the chairs, the time she got hit by a car on my birthday and I slept by her crate in the living room for two months.

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The bobblehead guys and their garbage can find garage sales. Hanging Christmas lights on the palm trees. The ripped guy who tore through the walkway and rode off on Chris’s rusted out (but cool as hell) Schwinn. My first big furniture delivery. The time the bomb squad showed up to talk down the mentally deranged neighbor threatening to blow up his clogged toilet with a plastic gun. How was Laurie supposed to know it was plastic?  The day Frank appeared after my stroke and refused to leave.

The memories crashed around in my brain. My brain. My poor brain that met its near end in that house. My brain that made its way back from the edge in that house. Why was I saying that house? I meant this house, the one I was sitting outside of, unwilling to say goodbye. Would my brain stay behind, not ready to leave home?

I choked back the lump in my throat.

Change is hard, man, change is hard.

I took a final look before turning and closing the door, softly, one last time. When I rounded the corner at the bottom of the stairs, the cat across the street ran over to say hi. I reached down to scratch him behind the ear and whispered, “I’m sorry buddy I won’t be coming back, I don’t live here anymore.”