The Purge

Tonight is my last night in my old house.

I lived in five different houses by the time I turned 15 and seven more places before I was 27. None of that moving around bothered me a bit, but I’m having a hard night tonight.

Anna moved in here when she was a year old. We lived here when Carlo was born. I burnt out and almost went off the rails while living here. I pursued and ultimately achieved my bliss here as well. My life’s lowest depths and highest highs occurred here, in a couple of cases within months of one another.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been here to begin with.

Building this house was a big compromise and probably a big mistake. We did it out of panic and, had we taken a few deep breaths first, we probably would’ve thought better of it. But we did it anyway. It’s possible that this place and where it is contributed to everything skidding off the road three years ago. Maybe it had nothing to do with it. I don’t know. Some days I look at it as the place where my babies grew up to become the wonderful kids they are now. Sometimes I look at it and think how I’ve spent a decade making mistakes. 

The place we’re moving is smaller. To accommodate I got a storage unit. This has made things easier for Anna and Carlo. I’m not making them throw too many things out. If they come across something they don’t want to take to the new house, they just throw it in a box marked “storage” and that’s that. It’s just up the road so it’s not really gone. I suspect they’ll never think about or see most of what is going to storage, even if they’re glad that they don’t have to truly get rid of anything. At some point I’ll purge all of that stuff for good, but in the meantime, they don’t have to part with things that mattered to them so it doesn’t feel like too big a change.

But I can’t do that. This house is so full of ghosts now that living here has become too hard. Holding on to things and simply putting them in storage is a half measure that won’t serve me well. I have thrown away so many of the artifacts of my life. It has been at turns pleasant, sad, cathartic and unbearable. Every box evokes a memory, and given how my life has gone in the past few years, memories are always problematic for me. Throwing things out is liberating, but every trash bag contains a hard, sad choice.

I’ve put my head down and done it anyway. The dump is full of the things that brought me pain and all that remains are the tokens and totems of the happy times in my life. The things that don’t carry such emotional weight. In the morning the movers come to take them to the new house.

I hope the ghosts don’t follow me there. I hope this move represents a purge in every sense of the word.

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the author of the daily baseball (and other things) newsletter, Cup of Coffee. He writes about other things at He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.

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