After many years of moving from one city to another, one state to another, one community to another, we have finally found a place to call home. It’s not a house–yet. But a community of neighbors, coworkers, teachers, our child’s friend’s parents, and fellow transplants to a town whose survival depends on the university that called us here. We have uprooted our lives so many times, I lost track of old addresses and zip codes. I kept my first cell phone number from our Baltimore days 16 years ago. I refuse to give it up as it reminds me of just how far we came.
It is also one less thing I had to change throughout the years.
Aside from my phone number, I have my husband–the two constants in my life. Nothing else has stayed the same–not my weight, not my name (when I married), not my hair color or length, not my clothing (although I do keep clothes a really long time), not my job or highest degree earned or my career interests, not my local friends, not my favorite restaurants, not the distance to relatives, not the number of angel babies born into our family nor the one daughter who was blessed enough to stay.
Now we search for consistency. We are older and more weary. My body aches easier. My brain tires faster. I hunger for a place that will be my address for as long as I can imagine. I dream of making friends that I know I will see for longer than three years until our next move. I strive to make a happy home for our daughter Evelyn.
We began by talking to a local realtor. The process makes me queasy. We had bought our first house together 11 years ago, and just recently sold it. Back then, I had learned that the market is not a place for the weak-stomached. I agonized over the “other offers” that magically appeared once we made ours. I grimaced at the broken porcelain tiles in the showers, the stained carpeting that lined the floors, and the stale smells that seemed to emanate from all the houses in our price range.
But here we are again. Older, smarter, more prepared. We have more money in the bank from years of renting below our means. We have no debt and no where else to be. We are finally ready to jump into this again.
Evelyn deserves a place where she can grow up and have memories of playing in the living room, practicing her piano lessons, and having sleep overs with friends. I want her to write in her diary about how she baked cookies with me in the kitchen and had barbecues in the backyard. I want our families to come visit and fill the house with laughter. We all deserve a place of comfort and peace. We deserve a home.
In our last home, we lost three babies. We felt the joy of being pregnant with our first child only to return from the hospital empty-handed. We sobbed our way through two more miscarriages, me slumped over on the bathroom floor as the pain seared through my insides, helpless until the suffering ended.
So, now, when we talk with the realtor about buying a home, I hold my breath with trepidation. I remember how badly the last round went. The pain floods my thoughts. My hearts breaks all over again for that 29-year-old me who lived in that house filled with empty.
We had bought our previous house with a plan. We left it with sorrow–sorrow for giving up our first little home together and for letting go of the place where we lost not only our babies but also our innocence. The day we drove away–toward our one-year adventure in San Diego–I took a last look at the kitchen. Empty of our belongings, it felt hollow. My sob echoed around the cabinets. We locked the door and got into the car.
Then I remember the good times. I remember the baby shower we had for my sister and brother-in-law. I remember having friends gather, playing games in the basement rec room and the grilling we did on the back patio. I remember the neighbors who chatted with us and made our street a community. They watched out for us. We watched out for them. I remember pulling large thistles from our back garden and planting marigolds in their place.
Now, we tell our realtor of our wishes. We hope for a big kitchen and lots of sunlight. We want a space for visitors to stay when they come to town. We want a place for Evelyn to spread out her toys. We want a study to house our growing collection of books. We want a place where we feel we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that our past can stay behind us. We want to settle into our current life. A place where my husband’s jokes are still bad and where we have dance parties in the kitchen.
Most of all, we want a place we can call home.