Imagine

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I was in Los Angeles last week for six days. I’ve never been on the West Coast before and I was more than ready for some sunshine, warmth on my skin, and blooming trees. The City of Angels did not disappoint. I spent most of my time in a cavernous exhibit hall, away from the heat and the sun, but still… It was heaven. No socks. No coats and hats and scarves. No whipping, cold wind. No gray piles of snow everywhere.

I am always somewhat frightened by how easy it is to imagine another life, away from my real one. Not that I necessarily want to, but the thought is there… Would anyone — other than Sam — notice that I am suddenly not around? Could I slip away to another coast, into another life? I could take the bus to work every day, walk to my office under the palm trees and tall buildings, sit outside on a shady bench at lunch, watching the fabulous people walk by. I don’t know… On these business trips it’s easy to forget that real life would not be all cabs, dinners, and cruising down Sunset Boulevard with old friends. Clearly. But it could be, right? Could it? Is there a life like that out there? Who is living it? Anyone? Leave a comment, please!

I got to spend time with an old friend — or whatever he was back then… Lover? Boyfriend? I am not sure. Anyway, I haven’t seen him in over a decade probably and I was very nervous about spending time with him. Would it be awkward? Weird? Uncomfortable? Meaningless? I didn’t have to worry — it was all perfect and for some reason so comforting. I remembered every reason why I used to love him but at the same time felt OK about not having ended up with him. It all made sense. I felt like I was where I needed to be. It was all right to look back, to remember, to take that trip down memory lane, but there was no need to stay there longer or wish for a different outcome.

I was happy to come home in the end. There are more adventures and big decisions waiting ahead in the near future and I know I have to be clear-headed and focused for all of it. And maybe someday soon spring will get to this part of the world too and I won’t feel so dead and cold inside and out.

That would be nice.

 

Real Estate

For days after we sold our house, I felt uneasy. It felt like the house was still somehow attached to me like a phantom limb—heavy and itchy and restless—and I had to remind myself constantly that it was none of my concern anymore. I didn’t have to worry about shoveling the snow in the driveway or fixing the leaky window in the dining room, and I no longer had to grumble about the cold, creaky wooden floors.

We bought our house eight years ago, just weeks before the housing market collapsed. I don’t think it was love at first sight, but more like comfort at first sight. We could see ourselves living there, hidden among the trees of our wild backyard. We could imagine our furniture in the living room, our pots in the kitchen, our bed upstairs, a crib in the second bedroom. Our small family—not yet in existence—would fit in this small house neatly, comfortably.

Right before we signed the papers to buy the house, we ran into its owner, a middle-aged woman who inherited it from her mother. She lived there with a huge, white dog whose fur we’d keep finding in the most unusual places even years later. “This place really needs a young family,” she told us, waving towards the gray house behind her. I had never owned a house, but I knew what she meant. I knew that this was the place where it was all going to happen—where we would become a family, where we would settle down and be happy.

And it was mostly true. We were mostly happy, mostly settled. We battled with the wild raspberry bushes in the yard, with the ice leaking through the old roof, the paint chipping off the shingles. But the place was ours and I was surprised by how much that mattered to me and comforted me. I felt anchored, secure.

Then we decided to move to another state for a new job. The house was on the market for what seemed like decades, various strangers walking through our rooms critiquing everything from the ceilings, to the size of the kitchen, to its location. I felt insulted and protective of our little nest but also a bit resentful of its stubbornness. Why couldn’t it just let us go? Yet when we finally received an offer on the day the moving truck arrived to pack up our boxes, I felt no relief, no joy. The financial burden was lifted, the responsibility gone, the worry relieved.

Our tether gone, we were free to go. And yet…

I walked through the empty rooms one last time the day of the closing. I only cried when I got to my little boy’s room where he and I spent so much time awake in the middle of the night. I was taking the little boy with me obviously—he was sitting in the car outside—but I felt like a part of me was left behind among the soft yellow walls and the baby blue closet, and the view of the yard.

Read the rest at Full Grown People…