When one door closes, another one opens just down the road

By BJ Hollars | March 19, 2024

  • The family dog lounges in the yard of BJ Hollars' new home (Photo courtesy of BJ Hollars)

The family dog lounges in the yard of BJ Hollars' new home (Photo courtesy of BJ Hollars)

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As the saying goes – home is where the heart is. But for writer BJ Hollars, it’s a little more complicated than that. We can become deeply connected to our physical homes, so moving – and moving on – can be a process.


While my family and I have cherished our time in Eau Claire, it’s time for us to say goodbye.  The boxes are packed, the papers are signed; all that’s left is to bid you farewell as we embark upon the next chapter of our journey.

A journey, I’m pleased to add, that will take us no further than 1.9 miles from our current home.

Yet sentimentalist that I am, any move—even one that lands us in the same zip code—leaves me awash with emotion.

Over the past month, while attempting to box up our belongings, I regularly pumped the packing brakes to indulge in various unplanned detours down memory lane, including a writing worksheet I found crumpled in my 7-year-old daughter’s room shortly before our scheduled move.

She’d composed several sentences about the move, including:

“My house is along the highway.”
“I’ve been to my new house.”
“My family is buying a house.”

But then, in a stunning twist, her declarative statements veered toward the philosophical:

“Why does the world move so fast?”

I did a double take.  Had she been copying off ancient philosopher Heraclitus’s paper?

The moment she got home from school, I accosted her.

“Where on earth did you come up with that line?” I asked, handing her the paper.

“Duh,” she said, rolling her eyes.  “Only from every adult ever.”

If there’s one thing adults do well, it’s lamenting the fast passage of time.  Unfortunately, we’re less adept at finding ways to slow it.  Over the past few months, I’ve taken drastic measures to extend every second: waking at dawn, lacing my boots, and embarking upon daily, pre-dawn pilgrimages between our current and future homes.

These walks start at 5:30 a.m., allowing me to wind past parks and parking lots wholly uninterrupted by signs of human life.  Always, I see more deer than people.  And always, time moves mercifully slow.

Let me be clear; I never wanted to move.  Instead, I’d hoped to root myself as deeply to the land as our backyard river birch tree.  But my wife had insisted that the children required “bedrooms” and “bathrooms,” and eventually, logic won the day.

My begrudging agreement came with conditions.  I demanded that our new house be within walking distance of our old house, I wanted to avoid all bidding wars, and I didn’t want to sell our former house to just anyone.  Such stringent conditions, I figured, would buy me a little time.

With two out of three conditions met, all that remained was finding the perfect buyers for our own home.  This being a seller’s market, I had the luxury of vetting all interested parties.  Following an extensive 37-year process, I found the perfect people.  Or rather, they found me.

“Wait a minute,” I said into the phone.  “You mean to tell me that you and Dad would move here?”

“Yes,” my mother agreed.  “There’s nothing we want more.”

After missing one too many of their grandchildren’s activities, my parents were anxious to make the 500-mile journey from Indiana to embark upon their own next chapter with us.

Now, if this all seems a little too good to be true, it’s because it is.  I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Will the basement flood?  Will the roof cave in?  Whatever the price, we will pay it.

Because we have found not only the perfect house but the perfect arrangement, too—we lose nothing, and we gain grandparents.

Was it Heraclitus or my 7-year-old who said, “The only constant in life is change”?  Whomever it was, they were right.  While change is scary, it’s less so when you know it’s coming.  And since it’s always coming, we ought never to be afraid.

When one door closes, another opens.

All the better when you’ve got familiar faces waiting within.

BJ Hollars

BJ Hollars

BJ Hollars is a writer, author, and an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
2024-03-19T14:46:44-05:00Tags: , , , , , |

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