Friday, March 20, 2015
I was in between client meetings when Jill lit up my phone.
"Do you have a sec? I think I just found the house for us."
Since leaving Stage 2 breast cancer in the rear view, we were back on solid footing and on the hunt for a new place. Our place.
We had walked in and out of many houses, but nothing really stuck.
Initially we were both leaning for an urban setting, something 'cultural.' However, that vision quickly grew hazy as we realized city living meant shitty public or expensive private schooling. And while we agreed that education was a top priority for us/Rory, we also knew some of the best public schools existed in STL county.
So, we pulled back and started looking at suburbia. That was much more difficult for me than Jilly. I think because I grew up here, I felt a strong need to differentiate our life from my upbringing. Which in a way is absolutely ridiculous because I was given an excellent - some would say ideal - upbringing. So, why try to shake it?
For me, I think I just wanted to create my own path. And now that I was living under the same sky that hung over me during my youth, I felt this internal urge to create a stark difference from the suburbia of my youth and my family's/daughter's suburban experience.
Jill played along, willingly seeking homes outside of my childhood school district, yet staying close enough to fall inside the two or three other districts that offered fantastic public education.
"It's got hardwoods throughout, in an excellent school district, and is in our price range. Are you near a computer? I sent you a link. We can look at the pictures right now." Jilly spit out these words with such gusto that I had no choice but to play along.
I pulled up the pics and Jilly narrated thru my clicks.
"That's the main living room, perfect for..." blah blah blah. She had ideas. I listened.
"That's the master bath. I know. Horribly decorated. We'll redo it."
"It's got a great big yard."
"Is that a good thing?" I responded flatly. Yard work is a life distraction.
"It's a great thing. Rory will have so much space to play and run around. And I'll do all the mowing. You know I love it. I got it. No problem." (She did love to cut the grass.)
"You don't need to do all the mowing. We'll share that one." I heard myself negotiating tasks against a house we did not (yet) own.
I jumped ahead in the Jilly narrated slide show. "Wait, what color is the outside of this place?"
A slight pause, "Grey'ish...blue'ish..."
"That's fucking blue. I mean, not bright blue. But, it's a fucking blue house."
"So, we'll repaint it," she retorted cheerfully.
"We'll have to." I paused again...maybe for effect. "It's fucking blue."
"We'll take care of it." She was moving on...
Strike one was the blue.
Strike two was the fact that it was a ranch.
The next week we did a walk-thru. Jill's enthusiasm permeated the place. There was no stopping her.
And thus there was no strike three.
This was it. This house would be our home.
This house is our home.
Five years later and this house remains our home.
Ro and I got back last night from a much needed spring break getaway to California. It was our first true two-person vacation. I was a bit anxious about how it would play out. Would Mommy's absence be more pronounced when seeing and experiencing new things in a new land?
(Un)Fortunately that was not the case. We made what we wanted to make of the vacation. And we loved it.
My dad scooped us up at the airport and dumped us at home around 930 last night. While Ro showered off the airplane/port grime, I emptied suitcases and started laundry.
Unbeknownst to me, it was starting to set in. This feeling that we were back. Back at home. Our home.
I think the fact that this house remains the home that J, J, & r built still weighs heavy on me.
Every turn, every view, every thing is ours.
Yes, new memories are being built (like this week's trip to San Diego). But, the majority of what makes our house a home is the love, laughter, and real life experiences that were generated by Jilly, Rory, and Jason. It's a constant presence. A constant reminder.
And that's okay. I just need to turn that corner that will allow me to channel these reminders - these feelings - into something constructive and beautiful. Because at this phase, it still tastes bitter.
There ain't no sweet aftertaste. Not yet.
I'm grateful that it doesn't appear to impact Ro in the same way it does me. She's rolling, loving life, and also missing Mommy. But, that internal flame of positivity continues to burn inside of her. Thankfully it does not appear to be in danger of burning out. And that gives me hope for myself.
And while I don't intend to forget any of the memories we've made in this house, I look forward to making new ones...starting w/ changing the fucking exterior paint color.
J, J, & r