I was happy in this house. Not crazy, delirious happy, but happy. I wasn’t sure about it at first – the creaking floors, the yellow walls, the old doors and glass door handles, the wild backyard – it all seemed very foreign. It was clearly meant and built for someone else. I wasn’t sure how it could ever feel like home.
But eventually, room-by-room, it did. It’s where I learned to scrape paint chips off the wood floors. It’s where I learned not to be afraid of the basement. It’s where I first sat in front of a working fireplace on a cold winter’s evening. It’s where I learned to negotiate with painters, gardeners, plumbers. It’s where I first raked leaves, shoveled snow, mowed grass, clipped rose bushes, grew tomatoes. It’s where I really became a wife. It’s where we fought and laughed and got tipsy on Christmas Eve, and celebrated birthdays. It’s where we found comfort in snow storms, in grief, in the quiet darkness of our bedroom. It’s where I became a mother after a night spent in our comfy armchair in the living room, surrounded by pillows, like some kind of an animal building a nest for her baby.
When we bought this house we once ran into the previous owner and she was happy to hear that a young couple was moving in. “This house always needed a young family,” she said. I wasn’t sure what that meant. But as Sam slowly discovered the house it all became clear. Just like he transformed us into a family, he also transformed this place into a home – first with his newborn baby smells and sounds, then with his toys, then with his small body discovering the space around him.
Suddenly our fireplace was a fire station dispatch center. Our living room was a pirate ship. The closet in the dining room the best hiding place for treasure – and for pirates. The kitchen counter was the best place to eat a snack while I cooked. The bathtub was the bottom of the ocean full of exotic fish. Our bedroom was a movie theater with popcorn and ice cream and snuggles.
It’s our last night here and it’s hard to imagine that tomorrow the messiness of our lives will be neatly packed in boxes, ready to move to some new space – still cold, unlived-in, unfamiliar, its beige walls full of hope and expectation.
Leaving the familiar warmth of our house is still unimaginable, even though it’s going to happen in less than 24 hours. I comfort myself with the knowledge that we’ve done this before – made a house into a home and made a life together in it. We can do this again, right?