What Do We Take With Us, and What Do We Leave Behind?

Homage to the homes we love and leave

John P. Weiss
Personal Growth
Published in
7 min readApr 23


Our former dining room library. Photo: John P. Weiss

The house echoes now, whenever I speak or the dogs bark.

Of course, there was always a bit of an echo, due to the tile floors, large windows, and open rooms. But when you box everything up and empty a house, there’s nothing left to absorb the life and sounds.

It becomes a desolate canyon, shouting back your words as if to plead, “How can you leave me?”

My wife Nicole and I were on holiday in Italy when we decided to sell our house and downsize. We were in Florence, sipping cold drinks at one of those delightful Piazza cafes. I remember making a silly joke and she pretended to stab me with her knife.

Nicole reacts to my silly joke. Photo: John P. Weiss

We laughed, enjoyed our drinks, and took in the architectural splendor and sense of antiquity that permeates Florence.

We needed this vacation because the prior year was a long journey through doctor’s offices, medical scans, hospitals, and surgeries. Thankfully, Nicole’s breast cancer was caught early, and treatment did not require chemotherapy or radiation.

Still, cancer has a way of concentrating the mind.

One thinks of many outcomes, good and bad. One reevaluates what’s important, and what’s not.

Sipping her Bellini cocktail, Nicole shared how much she enjoys travel and our mutual appreciation for fine cuisine. We talked about our son, who will be graduating from University soon and embarking on a career in the Air Force.

We asked ourselves why we spend a fortune every month maintaining a big house, pool, guest house, and surrounding landscape. We seldom use the pool, and the money spent on it and the landscaping crew could be used for travel and eating out.

We’d rather spend money on experiences instead of house maintenance.

And so we resolved to sell our home and downsize. Doing so would mean losing the pool and landscaping expenses, as well as the time and energy required to clean, heat/air-condition, and manage a large home…



John P. Weiss
Personal Growth

I write stories and essay about life, often illustrated with my photography and artwork. JohnPWeiss.com.