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Endings and Beginnings

I’m in the heart of my parent’s move from my childhood home right now, both physically and emotionally.  This is the last day I will get to stand in my old bedroom and look at the wallpaper and carpet I chose as my Bat Mitzvah present (hey, wait a second, these people buying the house get MY Bat Mitzvah present?)

It feels a little bit like losing my grandmother, when I realized that I had to ask her all the questions I may possibly want to know in my life time because she wasn’t going to be here down the road.  And while I had this realization and it kept me up at night, wracking my brain for questions to ask, I also knew that there was no way to predict what I’d want to possibly know or how many times I’d wish I could be in touch with her again.

And at the same time, this is nothing like losing my grandmother.  A house is a static place, not a living, breathing human.  I walked through the rooms with a video camera and Josh set the 12 minutes of footage to music. I loaded it on my iTouch, a virtual tour of my childhood.

I am trying to remember the layout of the rooms and the places where we were standing when certain announcements were given.  I told my parents I was pregnant in that kitchen.  I found out my great-grandfather died when walking through that door.  I took my engagement photos on that deck.  And yet I know that moments will pop up in the future when I can’t remember the colour of the flowers on the wallpaper or the size of a room and it won’t be on the video because I didn’t think to train the camera on the space in question.  And I’ll have to simply let it go and understand that there is no way to return to the past.  This is, obviously, much less about the house and more about saying goodbye to all the spaces that hold reminders of past people and events.

There is a small hiding space that creates a bubble between three rooms: the guest room, my parent’s room, and the laundry room.  This space is tiny–probably under three feet by six feet–and it is usually empty except for drying laundry hanging from a hook.  I used to bring my guitar into this space and sit on top of my foot stool (back when my ass was small enough to balance on top of a guitar foot stool).  It was my crying space.  I don’t know what it means if the first thing I think about is that I’m going to miss the sad places in the house.

I will also miss the happy places: the kitchen table, the living room, the space behind the sofa, my bedroom closet.  How I once stood at my bedroom window and watched a boy I liked show up for a date an hour early and just ride his bike around the cul de sac, waiting for the right time to knock on our door.  Our old television that I could turn on and off by screaming at the right pitch.  The time we threw disappearing ink on my cousin as he came down the steps, dressed for an interview at a law firm.  Meetings with my sister in our bathroom.

I am saying goodbye to a house.

I am also saying hello to the new book.  But wait, you think, Life from Scratch isn’t coming out until December 1, 2010.  Isn’t this a little early to be saying hello to the new book?  Well, life has sort of been in high gear for the last few weeks because my book was chosen by Mediabistro for its book club.

Which means an event in New York on August 17th and a reading and new galleys printed.  Which means creating the book site and throwing out ideas for the cover design and edits and tweaks and all sort of loose ends.

Which is 2000 kinds of cool, but also a little crazy because it was unexpected.  Calliope received an email from me in the morning, and by evening, we had built this site together over the phone.  Seriously, this woman is amazing and brilliant, and as Lindsay did for building Stirrup Queens, Calliope held my hand through the whole thing and didn’t even laugh at me when I started panting that building a website was too hard.  If you ever need website help (especially headers), you should hire her.  It’s worth every penny to not have to bang your head against the wall.

And if you were wondering what the hell my book is even about (and you can go on the book site and read an excerpt right now), from the blurb on Galleycat:

Nine months after Rachel Goldman’s divorce, she gives birth to a cooking project as well as a blog that helps her find her voice that was missing during her married years. Life from Scratch is an enjoyable read about not only learning how to grab your own happiness, but also, how to fry your own egg. An amateur chef and popular blogger herself, Ford is the author of the award-winning website, Stirrup Queens. Her blog has been recognized by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top ten motherhood blogs.

The reading is open to the public as long as you RSVP and I believe you will go home with a copy of the uncorrected galleys.  A collectors item!  You can RSVP for the event here.  And then let me know you’re coming.

So…goodbye and hello.


1 Tara { 07.20.10 at 1:50 pm }

Talk about highs & lows…the way you describe your childhood home & your experiences there puts a lumb in my throat.

Congratulations on the progress of your book…the website looks great! I wish I was in the area to be able to go to the reading!

2 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 07.20.10 at 2:05 pm }

Congrats on the book news! And on letting go to the past.

3 Kimbosue { 07.20.10 at 2:06 pm }

I am scared of the day my parents move from my childhood home. Big time tears. Kudos to you for doing it so gracefully.

And YAY for a new book!

4 Mic @ IF Crossroads { 07.20.10 at 2:19 pm }

Mel, I just read the excerpt and I’m so excited for the book!!! I can’t wait to pre-order when it’s available!!! The site looks awesome 🙂 Calliope did a fantastic job.

5 HereWeGoAJen { 07.20.10 at 2:27 pm }

Awesome! The website looks SO good!

6 Mina { 07.20.10 at 3:21 pm }

The site is great. And I am SO ENVIOUS of everyone who can be there. I hope delivering the book in Europe is not going to take ages. Can HARDLY WAIT!

7 Tara { 07.20.10 at 3:26 pm }

I have to wait until December to read the rest?!? No fair!

What a whirlwind of emotions. Congrats!

8 Jendeis { 07.20.10 at 3:32 pm }

I’m so impressed with you, the book and the website!!

I think the video is a great idea and will be helpful to you in saying goodbye to the house.

9 Heather { 07.20.10 at 3:59 pm }

Is it that you are going to miss the sad places or is it the spaces where you felt safe enough to have such raw emotions flow?

10 Kristin { 07.20.10 at 4:21 pm }

OMGosh, this is such great news about the book. I truly wish I could be there for the mediabistro event but there is no way I can get back to NY that short a time after BlogHer.

11 a { 07.20.10 at 4:33 pm }

Tara is right – what a whirlwind!

Congratulations on the reading, the book, and the new website – Fantastic!

Also, now you know why choosing portable gifts is important. Someone will probably tear up your Bat Mitzvah present and replace it with something ugly.

12 a { 07.20.10 at 4:41 pm }

Also, the attachment to the house will probably ease over time. I wanted to go past our old house all the time – I was dying to go inside. Now, I’m just mildly curious and if I happen to be in the neighborhood (almost never) and have extra time (again, almost never), I’ll take a drive by and see whats happening. And I can still see the blue, teal, and yellow striped wallpaper on the stairway. The hideous half orange/half yellow room that my sisters had before I painted it “bamboo beige.” The dark wood panelling in my old room. The velvet flocked wallpaper in the entry hall. The ceiling in my parents’ room with the texture that never got completely scraped off – it was like watching clouds in there. The counter between the kitchen/dining room in both its gold-flecked formica iteration and its green tile – and the time when my sister was tossing pizza dough in the air and she missed catching it and it landed right in the ashtray (no, we didn’t tell mom. Yes, we still ate it – it brushed off nicely). And I don’t even really have a lot of clear memories of my life there – just little vignettes that pop out from time to time…

So you will remember the house as it was in whatever memory you need to access.

13 Vee { 07.20.10 at 4:58 pm }

Well the book excerpt hooked me, I want more, I can’t wait!
Congrats Mel that is awesome.

The video is a great idea and I love that you will always have it on hand on your itouch.

14 kristi { 07.20.10 at 5:57 pm }

I loved the excerpt and I love the main characters name Rachel. Man December 1 is going to be a great day.

15 Rach { 07.20.10 at 7:16 pm }

Love the main characters name….but then perhaps I’m just a tad biased…who knows?

16 Shelli { 07.20.10 at 7:59 pm }

So exciting!

If I wasn’t going to be on vacation in SC that week, I’d hike up to NYC. I cannot wait to read it. I only wish I had it for my beach read that week!

17 Queenie { 07.20.10 at 8:53 pm }

LOVE the website! It’s so clean and fresh and gorgeous. I can’t wait for the book to come out. Now, can you please schedule a reading for DC for August? Your adoring fans are waiting!

18 Dora { 07.20.10 at 10:04 pm }

Wow! So much going on! The video tour is a great idea.

Just read the book excerpt. LOVE IT! The website is gorgeous. Cali rocks! Going to try to figure out a way to make it to the event. Must. Have. Galley. 🙂

19 Keiko { 07.20.10 at 10:31 pm }

Exciting and moving all at once. It’s fascinating to read your post in the context of buying our first home. What memories and love you’ve poured into those walls. Wishing you well in the book tour, and a hug for all of the emotions of moving your parents.

20 S { 07.20.10 at 11:15 pm }

Congrats on the book! Exciting news!

My parents moved a little over three years ago from the place I had called home since the age of 5. I thought it would be a much bigger loss that it actually was for me. The move was sad but once they were settled, I felt settled again. I learned that my home is really wherever they are, not what they are housed in!

21 luna { 07.21.10 at 1:41 am }

now I get the tweets about spoons!

it is a powerful thing to say goodbye to such an important place, but thankfully you can still remember those moments and share them with your loved ones.

so happy for you about the book and the book club and the site and everything. just wonderful! you should be so proud of yourself. well done!

22 Kristen { 07.21.10 at 9:51 am }

well, you inspired me to throw my kids in the car w/a snack and drive by my childhood home w/tears in my eyes.

Congrats about the book!

23 Cece { 07.21.10 at 9:54 am }

Cam is just of the age that he is ‘getting’ stuff. Like a few weekends back, I took him to our family cabin in the Berkshires. I walked him down to the stream to toss in rocks, like I vividly remember doing as a kid. It was awesome. My mom talks about selling that place every once in a while, and I think – she can’t! Cam and Maggie have to get to do all those same fun things that I did! But at the same time, they have a right to build their own memories and expereinces. I just really loved seeing him love something as simple as watching a rock spash in a stream.

Congrats on the book!

24 Catrisha T { 07.21.10 at 10:32 am }

I can’t wait to read your book. It sounds like it’s going to be an awesome read. CONGRATS!

I like the idea of taking a video to remember the inside of your old house. Most people just take pictures or have pictures of rooms with events that happened in them. The video is also very great and way better. Hoping that the lose of this place from your childhood eases over time. Many hugs… and new memories in the new place to come.

25 Kir { 07.21.10 at 10:39 am }

Oh Mel, soooo much going on. Ending and beginning for sure. 🙂 I loved the idea of the video of your childhood home, I wish I had done that…I really do.

and now I might just have to get a babysitter for the 17th because being able to see you twice in one month would be awesome. I’m going to make some phone calls. I <3 the book already, it's just my kind of read. (and her name is Rachel….sigh….love it)

26 Cibele { 07.21.10 at 12:48 pm }

I know all about endings and beginnings my friend, some times they superpose and it gets a little confusing but also exciting. Can’t wait to read your book. Congratulations

27 Kathy { 07.21.10 at 3:34 pm }

Wow! I got tears reading about you saying goodbye to your childhood home and imaging having to do that to mine someday. So many memories for sure… We are also looking to move to a bigger home and having lived in our current house for 7 years, if and when we move there will be a lot of bittersweet memories of our time here.

As for your book, that is so exciting! It sounds awesome! 🙂 Congratulations! 🙂

28 theworms { 07.21.10 at 4:30 pm }

Lots going on. GL with new book, I’m sure it will be as amazing as your first one 🙂

29 sprittibee { 07.21.10 at 7:19 pm }

Enjoyed my first visit to your site. Thanks for stopping by to comment on my Homeschool essay at BlogHer. Kudos and congrats on your book! Sounds wonderful. I loved the Jules and Julia movie – watched it at Blissdom and then rented it again at home since the Karaoke got a little LOUD. 😉 Hope to see you around the blogosphere!

30 mash { 07.22.10 at 4:04 pm }

Congrats about the book! I used to feel that way about my childhood home too until my dad died, and it’s only in reading your post that I realised how badly I want that house sold and out of my life now. Without him it’s no longer my childhood home, just an empty shell. A new beginning is the only way forward!

31 jodifur { 07.23.10 at 7:43 pm }

I never imagined how hard it was to move on my 5 year old, and I can’t imagine what you are going through now.

Congrats on the book.

32 Kymberli { 07.23.10 at 10:00 pm }

As usual, your words make me feel what I otherwise wouldn’t be able to relate to. Being a military brat, it never occurred to me before how passing over the keys to a childhood home would be like losing a beloved family member.

Congratulations on the pre-success of your book! Cali is quite a gal, isn’t she? She rocketh much, and so do you! I can’t wait to read your novel!

33 Ashley { 01.01.11 at 2:16 pm }

Thanks for posting the Creme de la Creme list! I’m so excited about reading each post! I enjoyed reading your post about moving from your childhood home. I moved from mine at 24 years of age and it was so incredibly hard as I thought back over all the memories there. I still dream about that house and I force myself to mentally go through each room so I won’t forget it. I wish I had taken video or pictures like you did. Great post!

34 Lindsay { 01.01.11 at 2:22 pm }

I, too, found it incredibly hard to let go of my childhood home, but we get through because we have to. Lots of good wishes to you on your new book and your continued work in the Loss Blogosphere.

35 loribeth { 01.01.11 at 8:36 pm }

I thought i had commented on this post originally — guess not. My family lived in 11 different houses in 7 different towns before I got married myself, not counting my students dorms & summer apartments — but my grandmother’s house was the constant through a lifetime of moving. I remember walking through there the last time, knowing it probably WAS the last time, because it was going to be torn down. I still go there, often, in my dreams.

So fitting to have a post from you to lead off the Creme de la Creme! Thanks again for doing this for us! : )

36 Lori Lavender Luz { 01.02.11 at 10:03 am }

It’s a lovely tribute to your childhood home, being selected as your Creme post. And really? You could command a TV with your voice?

I LOVED your book, Life from Scratch. Rachel, like her author, is good at creating comfort in spaces.

Thank you for this Creme.

37 Ms.Pollyog { 01.02.11 at 9:30 pm }

The way you describe losing your childhood home is a heartbreaking event that most of us can relate to. You, however, have a way with bringing us right there with you that makes this truly touching.

Methinks that your new book is going to be the perfect distraction for me later this week when I am resting post-transfer. Looking forward to it.

38 tiffany { 01.03.11 at 2:19 pm }

i can just imagine how hard it will be once my parents sell my childhood home. 🙁

congrats on all of the success surrounding your book. that is amazing!

39 WaterBishop { 01.03.11 at 7:34 pm }

I can’t wait to read it!

We moved so often when I was a kid that I never had a childhood home. I guess it is something I won’t lose. Instead I have a few precious objects, which if lost, would devastate me. It must be an eery feeling.

40 marilyn { 01.04.11 at 2:21 am }

It seems like your dreams are( have come true) I am in shock..I did not know I was blogging with a person who is in The Wall street Journal!!! There is a part of me that wants to brag to others that I am blogging with you..but you are my blogging friend and helper really. I really do appreciate you and well…you deserve all the success and happiness!! When I read your experience saying goodbye to your house..I had the hardest time too saying good bye to my house…I cried..but I said good bye to each room..didn’t make the pain go away..but I did take the memories with me..

41 Tanya { 01.06.11 at 2:37 am }

Frances Mayes writes in Under the Tuscan Sun how a house is a place to nurture, protect and grow your dreams – your vessel on the high seas which give you grace and space. I never had a family home as such – I so enjoyed the tour through yours – isn’t it funny how with hindsight the sad spaces become as important as the happy ones.

42 Donna { 01.07.11 at 10:22 pm }

I, too grew up in ONE house…well until we were in high school, and then we moved across the street! Soooooo many memories in that one house. LOVE your description of saying good-bye to it. ;-( Congrats on all the good news about your book! I’m off to check it out!

43 Anla { 01.09.11 at 2:38 am }

My grandfather passed away last year. His house is no longer in the family. It used to cause my aunts and I great pain and sadness when we drove by. It was an integral part of our family. The heart, the connection, the center of everything sacred to our family. When your family’s beacon dies, what do you do? I physically and emotionally grieved for a year at the lost of the house. Last time I was home, I drove buy and I wasn’t sad anymore. I remembered happy times I had there and it was just a house. Give yourself to grieve the house.

44 Esperanza { 01.18.11 at 12:43 am }

I always felt very connected to my childhood homes. Each time I moved I felt a great sadness for the actual house or apartment. I too walked through the rooms, thinking of all the memories that were made inside. I love that you took a movie of yourself walking through your house and set it to music – what a great idea! I might steal it when I finally move out of our apartment – the thing is it’s known so many incarnations I might not know what music to include for each room! Congrats on your new book. That is so exciting.

45 Natasha { 01.26.11 at 4:26 pm }

I moved from the house I grew up in when I was a junior in high school. I sometime try to remember what the rooms looked like and what it felt like to be in that house. Happier times came after we left that house so I don’t think of it often, but thank you for sharing the story of your home with us. And Good Luck with the new book!

46 Maria { 02.05.11 at 5:06 pm }

Visiting from Creme de la Creme. As a kid I moved around a LOT and always wondered what it would be like to become attached to a home. Now I’m wondering if I actually had it good. 😉 CONGRATS on the new book! Soooooo friggin’ awesome!

47 Noels { 03.07.11 at 7:24 am }

Hi Melissa,
Just finished reading your book Life from Scratch and was so disappointed when I turned the last page. I actually felt lost….. no more story…..what now? I became so much a part of “the story”. So…..congratulations on a very well written, witty, captivating read on the realities of life. I am sure there are many women out there who can very easy relate to these “life after divorce” emotions, insecurities, fears. Awesome….

48 Kristin Call { 03.30.11 at 1:00 pm }

visiting from CDLC. LOVE your writing style, will have to stick around more. Congrats on the book! I’m going to have to pick it up!

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