I bought my house in 2003. The house I close on in 10 days. When I bought it, I wanted space to create and entertain and a big yard for my dog. The house was built in 1906. My 18 years there was just a small part of its life. But it was such a big part of my life. It was the backdrop of lots of joy, a little pain. It gave me a shelter and it was a major character in my story.
My bathroom was 12 steps from my bedroom. I remember my first week there, waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. And feeling so lonely and grown up and scared and thrilled. I owned this house. Those 12 steps in the dark, the carpet and then linoleum underneath my feet. I had to keep it together so that I could pay for this house. This was mine. I was alone and this was mine.
My sweet Annie. She was so smart and we were growing up together when we moved into the new old house. Gaurding the big yard. Tearing up the garden hose. Dragging my clothing into the yard. Her muddy pawprints on the carpet. Her spot on the couch. Her wiggly butt every time I came home. The box of toys she wouldn’t play with Never agreeing to cuddle with George, but him never stopping trying. And then Annie’s last days. Sitting in the same spot in the yard that she claimed the day we moved in. I had to walk over to her to remind her to come inside. At the end she couldn’t really hear. Her soft fur and sweet eyes and her radiating love and nervous protective energy will always be at that house. They aren’t here which makes them feel even more lost forever. And in some moments it feels unbearable to live in a place that she has never been.
And the tech writers. Band practice with The Imperatives. My wonky french doors open – music inside and outside. Feeling the joy of living a different life. The parties and game nights. Drinks on the porch. Miller lite and Gin and juice – that was such a thing back in the day. Beer bongs and cards and crushes and laughter. Boys who I can barely remember now. Friends who I will never forget. Endless viewings of Pretty in Pink. Burning CDs to capture the perfect party mix. It was at that house that my friend Brett showed me the iPod he had bought. I think second generation – it held up to 8 hours of music! Hundreds of little memories – the tiny history of a GenXer before we were old. You are young and then you aren’t. It is disorienting.
Oh! The vegan cooking. 5 years in that kitchen making everything vegan. My favorites – beef stroganoff and rice krispie treats and snickerdoodles transformed. Arrowroot and glycerin and chemical egg and Bragg’s and apple cider vinegar and Daiya and tofurkey. A revelation every day that this was possible. Living my ideals through feeding myself.
The big change. Husband. Two perfect little beings moving into mine and Annie’s bachelorette pad. Their energy and interest and toys. Alternating weekends of noise and activity with crafting and quiet. Starting a married life. A family life. A family life with all the books. Buying grown up furniture for the books. A new couch. New appliances. Years and years of two big humans crowding into a queen bed – sometimes romantic, sometimes infuriating. Years and years of working and crafting in a small space. Letting it get to me sometimes. Mostly coping. Until the end when both of us cracked and fretted and tried to find the space. The pandemic brought to life and light that we needed some breathing room. Right now I am writing this amongst all of the breathing room a person could ask for.
And life as an artist. Learning to bead, knit, crochet, quilt, paint. All of it on the same pine table that I am working at now. An entire life through the frustration and joy of creating craft.
Moving out was fantastic and horrible. Our sweet cat George passed the same day we closed. The darkness and the light all in one big messy, joyous, tragic ball. There is room for all the books. And my quilts and paints and notes and pictures and monitors. All of the breathing room.
Hummingbirds come every day to tell me it will be ok. I can’t thank them enough. Because in this house there are 16 steps from my bedroom to the bathroom. Four more for the dread and fear to jump in. I have to keep it together for this house.
Truly, I am overjoyed in this new place. The over in the joy is the gratitude for the life that brought me here. Living here with the love of my life and the sweet and mean little cat and all the trees and birds. And joy that in a few days my beautiful house will have a new chapter with people who love her. And so many memories in this new place already. Toby making himself at home at the top of the bookcase. The perfect fall breeze on our perfect deck while we drink homemade mochas because we can’t afford Starbucks. Picking where things go. Still being bad at cooking, but in a gorgeous new kitchen. The endless craft room. The sound of the trains. Giving the tour to my friends. Every day my husband saying “I guess this will do” and smirking. Because it most certainly will do.