As I sit here staring at the offer on the table before me [quite literally], a flood of memories has rushed into my mind and sentiment fills my heart…suddenly what seems as though it should be joyful and exciting is becoming increasingly melancholy. It’s not that I’m unenthusiastic about the papers lying there…waiting for our signatures…I am excited. My sorrow is at all the memorable moments this sweet little home has been a part of. And as the reality of possibly soon parting with it sinks in, it is a little sad.
I know it’s kind of silly; after all, the house is nothing spectacular. It’s small, it’s old, the floors are slightly uneven…but it is familiar, and comfortable. It is has been home for practically all of my adult life.
As I type here, in the living room, I remember the evening J. proposed to me…right here.
We had the place torn apart. Everything was being remodeled…we gutted the place from one end to the other. Electrical, plumbing…all of it! We had finally arrived at the very exciting point of attaching sheetrock to the walls, and choosing colors, light fixtures, countertop, cabinets…etc.
J. picked me up and our “plan” was to swing by the house to measure something and then head out to the hardware store and decide on lighting. When I stepped inside the house, I realized, the “plan” wasn’t really the “plan”.
A small round wooden two person table was set up in the middle of the living room, surrounded by sheetrock…the bare wood floor exposed with bits of black paper still loosely attached. Rose petals were sprinkled across the unsightly flooring and atop the beautifully arranged dining table. A vase of roses adorned the center of the table. Off to my right, sitting on top of the stove [by “stove”, I do not mean kitchen stove…I mean our heating stove] sat a pot of spaghetti; I later found out he had prepared the pasta himself at his parent’s before driving to my place that night. And soft music gently flowed in from the small bedroom beside us.
He smiled. We had waited a long time – and it felt so much longer to us than it actually was. I remember staring at my ring often throughout the weeks to follow…it was beautiful, and it was mine…from him, what more could I want? That night was like a dream…and here I am today…in the very same place, nearly a decade later…still just as uncertain of what lies ahead, and equally as thankful to know that whatever it may be, we will face the future together.
To my left is the kitchen. I have a clear view of the countertop; I can vividly recall sitting there and crying the first time J. brought me here to see the place. I assure you…it is NOT the same countertop he showed me. It is different, but in the same spot.
The house was a little bit hideous when I first saw it. I exaggerate sometimes, but it really was not attractive…at all. The living room wall was covered in cedar shingles. Gross. Who would cover their wall with roofing?! The carpet smelled. The place was covered in spider webs. I can’t even begin to talk about the bathroom. The dining space was decorated with faux brick wallpaper and a rusted rectangular ummm, well, for the lack of a better term “chandelier” hung about 5 ft from the ground from dirty old metal chains. In the kitchen, all I could even focus my eyes on was the turquoise marble laminate countertop…it was everywhere…and screamed, “Look at me, I’m hideous!” The cabinets were actually ok-ish. They were white, which I love…and hope to someday have white cabinets again…and a few even had glass fronts, which I also love, however, they were painted so thick, they couldn’t even close properly anymore and were old and falling apart.
After J. gave me the “grand tour”, he asked what I thought about the house, and right then I lost it and began bawling. I began to re-think my decision to be seriously involved with this man…how could I possibly live HERE?!
He laughed. It was a kind, “you poor silly girl that I love” sort of a laugh. Then patiently and graciously he explained to me that it was more than what we could even afford and the best of any of the houses he had previously looked at. He convincingly explained that he would “fix it all up” and make it just perfect for me. And being so desperately in love, I choked back the rest of my tears, determined to pretend not to see the horrid turquoise counters anymore, and wishing I had a better imagination, but resigning myself to the fact that I simply did not, I decided I would trust him when he said it could be “fixed up” and “pretty” even.
He definitely followed through. My house isn’t “everything I’ve ever dreamed”, but it has been just perfect for us. It is warm, and inviting…and I am still amazed at what a wonderful job he did making a home for us.
Our yard is full of memories too. It is a big, beautiful yard, fully fenced. J planted a garden off in the corner, where we’ve been growing all kinds of vegetables: beans, zucchini, carrots, squash, and tomatoes. We also grew cilantro and lettuce. Peas are one of our favorites, but sadly, they didn’t produce this year. And we’ve also tried corn, melon and radishes, peppers and strawberries…those too were duds.
Our garage borders the garden and the yard. Along the side bordering our yard, J. planted some ivy we had used to decorate our guest tables at our wedding reception.
This picture was actually taken several years ago...it's grown all the way up now. We weren’t sure if the clippings would take, but now the entire wall is covered in greenery. I am amazed sometimes that those plants have made it so long. A few years they turned brownish in spots and we thought they might die…but they pulled through. It reminds me that our relationship has endured some “dry” seasons…times when life and love were not always as easy as it was when we were younger…but we were determined to love, and here we are.
Or, I think of the day I found out I was pregnant with our first child.
It was an average summer afternoon; the sun beat hot through the passing clouds, the air was a hint thicker with humidity, and the neighborhood was singing with noise. I could hear the train whistle loud and strong as it passed by near our home. The children next door threw their ball back and forth across the yard, occasionally a kid would miss the catch and the fence would tremble and then moan at the impact, like an old man. Our tall walnut tree was full of sound; squirrels chased one another, climbing in circles up her tall, thick branches, and occasionally a bird, perched on an outer limb, sang out some cheerful announcement across the air before stretching her wings and taking flight.
My husband was outside doing something. I’m sure that even if I had asked what he was doing, the explanation of it would cost him more time than it was worth for either of us, but I doubt I bothered to question him. I recall him using a ladder.
I was inside our little bungalow of a home, in the bathroom, off the kitchen [yes, you read that right…you walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom…that arrangement unfortunately could not be efficiently remedied during our remodel] *ahem* there I stood starring at the object before me in disbelief, unable to discern my emotions, unsettled, uncertain and understandably so.
How would I tell him? How could I go and explain this news to the unsuspecting man outside on that ladder? What would I say?
I wanted to cry. I wanted to laugh. I felt a little bit numb, but not so numb that my internal turmoil went unnoticed…just numb enough to no longer notice the dishes in the sink, or to pay much attention to Sobi as she smacked me with her thick, black tail in excitement when I stepped outside.
“Hey, J…could you come here for a minute?” I called out.
“What d’ ya need?” This was his sensitive reply. [He often uses lazy English when he’s focused on a project. I think he inherited it from his dad.]
“I need you.” I answered, vaguely.
“Honey, I’m in the middle of something. What is it - a spider?”
No. It was not a spider. A spider would be easier…simpler, and far less invasive.
“Uh…noooo.” By this point, I had become more than slightly irritated. This was not how I envisioned our conversation going. I’m not certain I had much of a “vision” for the exchange, but I knew that THIS was not it. Why didn’t he just put the hammer down and run over here to squish the assumed spider for me?! Why were we having this dialogue across the yard? Didn’t he know I have something very serious to discuss?!
“Of course not…how could he?” I reasoned with my self. Then I regained my composure and marched down the steps and through the grass to meet him. He obviously wasn’t convinced by the urgency and seriousness in my voice and intended to continue hammering.
Once I finally blurted out the news, pregnancy test in hand, he responded entirely unalarmed, or emotional, “Ha-ha. Funny Heather…” It took some time for me to convince him that I was indeed serious. [Let that be a lesson to you…it’s like a suped-up version of “the boy who cried wolf”. I think I may have played one too many practical jokes on the guy.]
Oh how our world was forever changed!
Now here I sit with not one, but three little ones around me. My son, [the one who rocked our world a bit] is now five, and is sleeping on the floor in the bedroom. My oldest daughter, three years old, is crashed on the couch across from me…and my youngest little love is resting peacefully and happily in my arms.
Our house is full of memories.
Most of them are sweet…a few are agonizing to recall. So, I won’t.
But the beautiful thing about memories is that we don’t have to leave them behind with the house…they are OURS. I am thankful for the moments and years God has given us here. And although, I really do not know what the future holds for us, I know Him who holds it.
And today, instead of looking around me and crying, [like I did when J. first brought me here so many years ago] I will fix my eyes on Him and know that He loves me and regardless of whatever my present or future circumstances may be, He has promised that He would go and prepare a place for me. And because I am so crazy in love with Him, I will determine to ignore whatever “turquoise marble” I may encounter, and trust that He will take care of me. He may just even be able to make something beautiful out of the messy, filthy, ugly – worn out world we each are all too familiar with living in […and contributing to if we are willing to be honest about it].
Not to say I feel like my current situation is a hardship or difficulty, I just know that life isn’t always easy or glamorous; but I get to share it with Him. THAT is worth overlooking life’s “turquoise marble”.
Now enough storytelling, I’m off to crunch some numbers and pray about big decisions to be made…