The last night in my home I spent a lot of time walking around in the dark.
Listening to the sounds a house makes, amplified as they echoed through empty rooms. The familiar hum of the fridge, the thud of a particular piece of floor.
I breathed in its smells. My son's room, he's still there even if he hadn't been for weeks, my daughter's perfume, the soapy bathrooms, the garden.
My home has always been a sensual place.
There could have been marks on the walls that guided me to my babies in the middle of the night.
Guided by the familiar light that allows me to estimate the time of day to the hour, still. Allows me to gauge the lunar cycle, still.
Such is the familiarity of an 18-year-old relationship.
We know the cracks and crevices, the dints, the corners, the curves. When we reach for them they guide us home or steer us around corners. We know what turns will bring us pleasure or pain.
My home has been my lover for almost two decades. It knows how to please me, how to make me feel joy, how to make me cry. It has disappointed me, rarely, and, on some occasions, has left me asking for more.
Mind you, I've asked a lot of it. Particularly in recent years. Lonely nights softened by a glimpse of the moon. The solid touch of a wall, a glistening shadow near the pool.
I can't count the number of times I've returned here over the past 20 years, after, say, a holiday, even a weekend away, a night out, and thought, 'look at this light, this is why I live here'.
But I don't anymore. I wondered whether it would be weird to leave the new owners an ode, as such, alongside the keys that I have no idea which door they fit, and the instructions to the oven, and the contacts for the best pool people, and how to reset the automatic irrigation system if the power goes out.
All that corporate knowledge of your home you're somehow required to pass on.
So much of it, post-divorce, which was assumed I knew how to do.
I can water the garden in parts but do I know how to set it to run all those parts at once, or on the fortnightly schedule? No. I can turn the heater on, yes, but I haven't for years, because heating is overrated, just throw another jumper on, and what is that booster thing for? I have no idea. I've kept the pool clear every summer since, one of my proudest achievements, but have I back-washed it enough, no. I'm a cook, but every time the power goes out and I have to reset the clock on the oven I still refer to the instructions.
Imagine if you were passing on an old lover with the same goodwill.
Here, move in, these are the areas that will bring you the most pleasure, these are the places that made me happy, I hope they do the same for you. Pass on the instruction manual, some tips you learned, its quirks.
I met the new owners. Full of anticipation. Make new memories here. Promise me that.
I told them the basics, but I knew it wasn't up to me to tell them much more.
They need to discover so many things for themselves. My home is now theirs, but not my life. There are days when I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
Anyway, do people buy homes thinking they will bring them pleasure? And pleasure means so many different things to different people. The things I love might annoy them, they might like different rooms, different patterns of light and shade.
How I felt evolved throughout the evolution of our family and theirs is just starting out. They'll have time to figure things out.
I'm sorry if I've become a little melancholy during the past few months.
I was at the shops the other day and a stranger said to me: "Good luck with the move." I had no idea who he was. But he was a reader and you know where I'm up to.
You, perhaps, have followed me and Blossy and the Monster for the past almost 20 years. We're all grown up now.
I've hoarded your hand-written letters, your terse emails, the little handmade gifts you've sent, the support you've given me over the years, these years which have tossed up so much more than we ever expected.
Here's to more stories. And less melancholy. I promise.