Settling in

Please pardon my absence. I’m coming to you from the floor of my closet. I’ll explain.

Our home has always felt temporary. We’ve maintained a luke-warm relationship with Austin, liking the culture and the people, less certain about the climate and the education system. We dabble with the idea of moving. Boston? Brrr. Portland? Wet. We’re happy here for now.

We’ve been eager to rid ourselves of our big suburban house though. We bought it while living in a motel room with a cat and a dog. It was the best house we saw. Nice flow to the layout. Great location for raising kids. But we never thought of this as our dream house. It was good enough until we moved to our dream house.

By dream house, I do not mean mansion. We like to live simply, and owning a five-bedroom house is the antithesis of simple living. We like to think of ourselves as environmental stewards, but our ownership of this house clearly conflicts with our intentions.

After we had Eleanor, this house started to make sense. We walked her to the pool across the street or to the swings at the elementary school. We discovered one child after another for Eleanor to befriend as we met our neighbors.

Then we lost Genevieve, and we started to talk again of moving. All of those empty bedrooms seemed a physical manifestation of our loss. Pink butterflies dangling in the nursery and nobody there to look. Three people did not need a five-bedroom house. While I was pregnant with Henry, we agreed that if something went wrong again, we would have to move, that this house would be too burdened with sadness.

Now we are four people plus a dog. We definitely do not need a five-bedroom house. And yet. Eleanor is about to start school across the street. She has many friends in our neighborhood, as do we.

We have spent nine years here now, brought home three babies to this place, in one way or another. It’s time we embrace it. Maybe this can’t become my dream house, but it can become a house that I’m happy to call my own. A few weeks ago, we repainted our office, ridding ourselves of the green paint that we had spent eight years disliking.

Now we are having wood floors put in, the wood floors that we have talked about since moving in. We always worried about recouping the money when it came time to sell the house. But this constant thinking about selling our home means that we never made this place our own. Would we even notice that we didn’t recoup the money when we sold the house 10 years from now? Maybe our happiness in the meantime would make up the difference.

If you’re thinking all of this house talk is a metaphor for life in general, I think you’re right. I would rather be writing from my office or from a cute little coffee shop, but at the moment, I’m in my closet to escape the noise of cracked tile being shoveled from our entryway. Do the best with what you’ve got.