Written By: Aubree Dittmar
I don’t own a lot of things, at least I never thought I did before I started packing. My items had blended into the background of my home, and now that I’ve been picking them up and putting them away, I’ve come to realize that there’s more than I had. I have plenty of little things that can’t fit into one box, and some bigger things too. The biggest thing that I could want to pack would be the home I’ve grown up in, but that’s way too big to put into a box, and it’s going to be taken anyhow. The things that I own will never look right anywhere else but the place I call home.
I’ve lived in the house since I was two years old, and it holds plenty of precious memories. I can remember being only four and spending time with my siblings and their friends upstairs. The mornings when Dad woke me up to get me ready for school, and how he put me in front of the warm furnace after a bath. Most of my happy memories with my friends would be in my bedroom, where we would stay up past midnight and scare each other out of sleep. Countless happy memories that cling to the walls of the place, that affect the air and aura as I walk into another room. Seventeen years of memories in this place, and by the time I’m done packing and ready to leave, I will never see those rooms in person again.
When the news first came to me that the city was using eminent domain, it didn’t really hit me at first. I felt indifferent, nothing, and maybe I had been in a sense of denial. The more boxes that I get, the more that I put in them, it’s starting to come to me as a sense of dread. The impending grief is slowly closing in on me and I know there’s nothing that I can do to stop it. I’m going to lose the location of all of those happy memories and I’ll never be able to come back to show anyone else this place like it’s a museum of reminiscences, like some others get the luxury of doing. It’s not the sense of familiarity I’m going to miss, nor the comfort of knowing my surroundings. I’m going to lose my childhood home, against anything me or my family that lives here gets to say.
The city has taken a lot of things from my childhood before, actively leaving the corpse of what I considered friends next to the backyard. After the derecho, there were lots of trees that were still standing after the storm, trees that I played around and actively grew an attachment to as a child. I’ve named the trees that stood around the house, named them Barney, Ivy, Echo, Light, and many more names. They stood tall and survived, and when they used the large space near the house to place the dead trees, I’d wake up and find them gone. The city actively knocked down living trees and threw them in the pile of dead trees that were lost to the storm, successfully killing the bits and pieces of happiness I had after the storm. Now that they’re taking the house, I am very afraid that they’ll take what’s left, and they’ll kill Joseph, Eric, and Elmore as well, trees who are still next to the house that I’ve actively started crying at the thought of them no longer being there. It feels like the city will stop at nothing until they’ve killed everything my heart still latches onto, even as it’s still breathing.
I’m going somewhere new once the eminent domain takes its course, I’ll be living in a completely different house in a whole new environment. The ending of one chapter leads to another, it always does, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt. No compensation will ever feel right enough to cover the damage it causes to take away something considered home, and throw me into another. But as I said, eminent domain is against the consent, so I don’t get a word in the matter anyhow. So I’ll just bite the bullet, and pack my things, and it won’t take long. I don’t own a lot of things anyway.