The concept of the childhood family home eludes me; we moved roughly once every five years. I only remember being upset about this once, when I was 10 or 11. K and I ripped down the 'for sale' sign at the end of the driveway and tossed it into an adjoining paddock. I don't know that we'd thought it through (removing the sign was hardly overthrowing an entire marketing campaign) and I don't recall how Dad discovered we'd done it, but I do remember the sinking feeling that the move was written on wall, when Dad was chewing us out after the fact. I gave up the rebellion pretty quickly and didn't look back as we left for the last time.
It didn't upset me when Mum and Dad largely converted my bedroom into a spare room within the first eight weeks after I left for university. I've always found the concept of a child's bedroom preserved in perpetuity somewhat creepy, perhaps a little shrine-like.
When Mum and Dad sold the house they'd built and we lived in for the longest stretch of my youth (I was there for seven years, they sold it after nine years, after both K and I left home), I didn't feel sad either. They were moving somewhere they wanted to be, I didn't live there any more. I almost wanted to divorce myself from the place; I had started feeling uncomfortable visiting the haunts of my high school years when I returned on university holidays. I was reinventing friendships and tossing out much of who I had been in high school, trying an adult persona on for size. I think I felt guilty when I visited, I was (and am) bad at maintaining friendships over distance and had moved on when I left.
As an adult, the longest I've lived anywhere was three and a half years in a tiny apartment in Auckland. I couldn't wait to get out of there; I don't miss it.
I've always assigned more meaning to objects, I think. Relics of my childhood such as exercise books, ribbons and pictures hold more nostalgia for me. I still think of the feijoa tree outside my bedroom window ages 5 through 10; I'd sneak out the window to gorge when I'd been banished to my room for misbehaviour. Remembrance is triggered by eating a feijoa, not by visiting the place.
Which is why it feels odd that suddenly, less than a year after I've moved in, I feel emotionally tied to our new place. It's the house and land itself that I'm growing to love. I hear the tui in the tree across the road and know I'm home. I hear the gate swing and curse it sticking in wet weather. That's home too. I ripped creeper out of the lovely half grown chuckleberry trees on the fenceline and cursed when I snagged and broke a branch. Who knew that ownership was such a different beast? Perhaps I'm getting more sentimental in my old age.