This one’s for you Ryan…you asked for it.
I think I may have a slightly unhealthy attachment to this house. If you know me, you know that the structure itself and it’s contents are not precious. But that mailbox has held four bunches of balloons, colors heralding the arrival of a boy or a girl to our neighbors. This front door has welcomed four babies home. It opens hundreds of times a day, ushering the Smalls off to school and then welcoming them back in again. Opens to admit neighbors and family and people looking for a good read. Dan built these bookshelves himself. Drywalled the boys bedroom, crafted shelves for my crafts, hammered every nail into this deck. The Smalls have left their mark too. Grubby spots on the wall heading upstairs speak of hurried trips up to play legos, pretend to be a princess, go to bed. The boys live up there. It smells like a locker room in Lithuania (no offense meant to my Lithuanian readers). They almost never flush the toilet. I got weepy this morning when took care of that for them. I think I may have an unhealthy attachment to this house.
The view from my bedroom window has soothed souls on hurting days, given me reason to break my eyes away from sleeping newborns on my chest, reminded me to pray for my neighbors. This home has been our refuge, our street corner, our safe zone. It has seen times of brokenness so dark I thought we wouldn’t survive it. It has seen times of joy so deep I thought we couldn’t contain it. This house, it’s bones and it’s stuff, mean nothing to me. But this home, it is precious.
Which is why we are pouring enough money into it to ensure we’ll never be able to sell it for anything but a loss. Because unless Father tells us different, we are never leaving. I want to spend the next fifty years looking out at the picket fence sections Dan built when we were newlyweds that now line the path to my dear Cheryl’s house. The next fifty summers wondering where the kids have disappeared to and then following the sounds of quarreling and hammering to find them. The next fifty springs watching neighbors emerge from driveways and head down the bike path, dish to pass in hand, knowing it’s potluck time again. The next fifty falls wishing we had more sugar maples, but then shrugging and heading just down the street to Seidman to get my fill. The next fifty winters watching the snow fall silently into the creek.
But first a bit of reno and then we’ll be back. Back to raise Cain with boys armed to the teeth and loaded for bear. Back to leave new grubby prints on freshly painted walls and to roller skate around the kitchen island, because that’s how we roll. Back to living a bike ride away from cousins and a whole slew of other people we love. Back.
Until then there is a condo that smells of mothballs and lapsed time waiting for us. It is decorated with monkeys and palm trees. It’s going to be our adventure. It’ll be like staying at a hotel for 4 months I’ve told the Smalls. Only without a pool and room service. Ok, it’ll be nothing like staying at a hotel, but it will be an adventure. And when it’s over our neighbors and bus 31 and this home we love so much will be waiting for us. And we’ll be that much closer to our China baby and to summer and to long, lazy days in the sun. So the sooner we pack, the sooner we leave, the sooner we can return.
And the leaving won’t be nearly as painful as trying to explain to the boys why they can’t bring their guns. Or to the girls why their new room won’t be big enough to share with a horse. Not even a pony. But until then there is me filling boxes and assembling shelves for the condo while a Small in a paper pilgrim hat moves things from the donate pile to the secret stash behind her mattress, all while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to distract me. And a dear sister packing up all my food and making the time go faster with her company. And the rest of the Smalls will get off the sweet yellow savior in a few and I’ll prolly cry to think of the friends who will continue to ride without us for the next four months. And then there will be a pj and movie night as we call a moratorium on packing so we can just be here, in this home, together. I am so thankful.
This is me being real. Praying my heart out that when next I write from this home there is a plan on the near horizon to collect the Small who hasn’t seen it yet. Pink balloons, our fifth set. I’m yearning for that day.
This one’s for you Ryan…you asked for it.