A Lesson in Letting Go


The one thing I have had to do since moving overseas, whether I’ve wanted to or not, is to let go.  Let go of an everyday life that is relatively easy, let go of material possessions that are familiar, let go of the comfort of good friends and family that are always nearby. This has been by far the hardest challenge of moving to a different country.

This past month I had the privilege of spending several weeks back in what I consider my hometown – Austin,Tx.  It was great! I got to spend quality time with my parents, my sister, and my friends.  But I also had a lot of work to do – I decided now was the time to sell my house.  And once again I was slapped with the hard lesson of learning to let go.

I thought it would be easy.  I’ve owned the house since 2002 but haven’t lived there since 2010, renting it out while Ross and I lived in his home just a short drive away. It’s a good financial decision – houses in Austin are selling like hotcakes and whatever profit we make from the sale can be put to better use. But a decision that is good for the bank account isn’t always one that feels right for the heart.

There was a lot to do – work with the realtor, fix the front porch, freshen up the yard, and clean the interior.  But as I worked away, mop in my hand to clean the hardwood floors in the living room, it hit me hard, really hard: this is the last time you will ever mop these floors. That did it, the tears started to fall and they would not stop.  I sobbed the entire time I mopped those floors and suddenly selling the house did not feel like the right decision, not in the least. This 64-year-old house is more than just wood, tile, and aluminium siding. It represents the first thing I ever did completely on my own. I bought it on my own, no help from Mom and Dad or a boyfriend, no roommate to split the costs. I decided to renovate the kitchen and lived through 3 months of having the floors torn up, walls torn down, and kitchen appliaces in my living room. I’ve painted the walls more times and more colors than I can now remember, had numerous Halloween parties equipped with a revolving disco ball, movie night with a projector out on the deck (by the way, an old white sheet duct taped to the side of the garage works just fine for a screen).

No, my little yellow house is not just the sum of its parts. It’s the sum of twelve years of memories, of a life lived with a bright future ahead and not knowing where it was going to lead me. Which leads me back to the important lesson I once again am reminded of – letting go. I know that letting go only leads to great possibilities. If I hadn’t allowed myself to let go of my life in Austin to move to Budapest, I never would have experienced all the wonderful moments Europe has to offer, the chance to make new friends – while still keeping the old, of course, you guys aren’t getting rid of me that easy!

Releasing our hold on things from our past, whether it be an actual thing, or an idea, or an expectation on how life should be, is a process that presents itself over and over – a process that can be painful but is necessary and worth fighting through. I now feel fine about selling the house, I still think it’s the right call. It will give someone else the chance to make great memories – the house is ready for a new chapter. Though it is a good thing I’m all the way over here and not there. Handing over the keys myself might just be a bit too much.

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6 thoughts on “A Lesson in Letting Go

  1. chris

    before i left to travel (again) through europe, i talked to my grandmother on the phone back in texas, they’ve moved out of their house, which is home to my earliest memories and goes back much farther in memory for her and all her kids. the process of letting go of something so so dear in order to make room for a bigger and less familiar future brought me to tears. this is the first time that moving, for me, has proved difficult, for the very reasons you shared.
    thanks for sharing.
    kiss the horizon; it’s all around you.

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