Londonderry, VT

Leaving My Childhood Home in Londonderry, VT Behind

Amanda Clark-Rudolph

How a Pixar quote helped me leave my Londonderry, VT childhood home behind.

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A watercolor of the author’s childhood home by Cristal Call

“It’s just a house.” Carl Fredricksen, Pixar’s Up

After moving to Florida, I still wanted my boys to experience the beautiful Londonderry, Vermont summers: the berry picking, farmer’s markets, and indescribable mountain views.

My sons and I visited my childhood home, nestled in the woods, several times. Last summer, we had a blast kicking a giant soccer ball on the front lawn. The same lawn I spent hours on as a kid — trying to beat my juggling record as neighborhood cars whizzed by.

I loved that yard and reveled in the fact that my sons loved it too. But this last trip, we traveled to a smaller house nearby because my childhood home was no longer “ours”.

My empty-nesting parents craved less upkeep and decided to downsize. Who could blame them? They sold our home to a lovely young couple who plan on having a family of their own and creating beautiful memories — like we did.

Before our Londonderry trip, I hadn’t thought much about going to a different house with two young boys. Vermont was Vermont, and I was glad we could offer our sons that summer experience. A teepee would have been fine for me.

I had known every nook and cranny of that space — all the creepy hiding places, steep stairs, and finger-crunching cabinets.

I had forgotten how on my last trip, I ran after my oldest with ease. How I stopped him from raiding the pantry and blocked the door to the basement before he discovered it.

Unfamiliar and in transition mode, the new house was a child’s playground.

My son proved this when he bolted up the cascading staircase leading to an open window. (The architect of that place surely didn't have kids in mind.)

He then pushed on the screen before I had time to look around and find my bearings. I was a stress ball; those first few days were super hard, and I wondered if we should have come.

I missed my Londonderry, VT childhood home because there I knew how to deal with the stairs and pointy tables, the creaky, old chairs. At the new house (in South Londonderry), I was out of my comfort zone; my home base — gone.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I felt grief.

It wasn’t my home and presented so many unknown variables for my two young boys.

I learned a lot from that trip. First, we love our routines: our double stroller morning walks, library Mondays, errand times, Sunday service, lunch, naps….

We’re typical creatures of habit, and routines have always kept me (and my children) sane. But that Vermont trip taught me it’s necessary to leave your comfort zone and cope when things don’t go as planned.

Yes, it was rough for a couple of days, but gradually my sons learned the new house’s boundaries, and he grew bored with the nooks and crannies.

Eventually, we began to adapt.

We went swimming at the nearby pond, a beautiful place surrounded by white birch and maples.

We attended my grandmother's 80th birthday party, where my oldest son hit his first Wiffle ball, and my youngest son met relatives for the first time.

We ended up making memories and having a great trip. At the same time, it was one of the most exhausting experiences of my life.

And although I was glad we went, one of the biggest lessons learned was that my home is no longer in Vermont.

While visiting, I missed our house in Florida that catered to our family.

I missed the pantry with a lock. I missed the ability to sit down in my living room instead of chasing a child trying to climb stairs and poke out window screens.

I missed our yard.

I missed the familiarity of home. And by the end of the trip, I forgot about my old house and even learned to appreciate my parent’s new house in Vermont.

Carl, from the Pixar movie Up, put it all in perspective.

Spoiler ahead: After making every effort to save the house he once lived in with his late wife, he loses it; actually, he SACRIFICES it for something more, and when everything dies back down, he simply says, “It’s just a house.”

This quote left a mark because my childhood home is just a house. My parent’s new home is just a house. And even though I appreciate my home in Florida, it’s just a house.

After traveling to Vermont with my two young sons, I learned although it can be challenging to leave the comforts of home, you can make memories anywhere, and it’s the people who surround you that truly matter.

Because family is forever, but like Carl said, “A house is just a house.”

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Hi, I'm Amanda - a freelancing mama who writes about family, travel, holidays, and more! In addition to freelancing it up, I'm a Content Coordinator for neighborhood magazines. My favorite pastimes: Writing, slurping lattes, and playing freeze tag with my two sons.

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