we committed to you sight unseen. based on the word of my brother and trusted realtor and not much else. we just knew we were meant to be back in this neighborhood and you were one of the least terrible houses on the market at the time. it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. it was more like “good enough.”
but how i’ve grown to adore you! 2 weeks of nearly ceaseless labor with our friends and family and with each other: scrubbing your walls, tearing up your carpet, sanding red paint off your wood floorboards, painting nearly every surface in the colors that make us feel at home,choosing a stove and refrigerator, and repairing holes in walls and ceilings… slowly we began to see what you could be, and that you could be our home.
while blowing insulation, in your attic we discovered a box full of letters to and from a woman named Mary, dated from the early 1900s until around WWI. reading those and imagining the lives that were lived in your walls long, long before we were born added new depth to you, and made you deliciously mysterious.
it was just a day or two after we moved in when we found out that we were pregnant. i remember that moment in the early morning, coming into our bare bones new bedroom from the bathroom where i’d just taken the test, to tell Tim that we were going to have a baby. i cried. i wasn’t sure i was ready for that. but what a potent first memory to share with you!
we welcomed two wonderful women as housemates those first months. your small rooms were FULL with four adults doing our best to share our lives with one another, as well as your kitchen and bathrooms! we had sweet late night conversations and sometimes moments of irritation, but it was good.
as my belly burgeoned with our baby girl, however, i knew i needed you all to myself. just me and tim and you… and soon this baby girl. we asked the housemates to move out and then we claimed every room in you as our own, creating a nursery and an in-home office out of the spaces that they once had filled. that little nursery with the grey walls off the dining room became one of my favorite spaces in time.
my child was born in you. hazel emerged on the love seat in your living room one very hot late-spring night. and since then the story of you, dear house, has been entwined with the story of us becoming a family. we became parents under the shelter of your roof and hazel experienced about a zillion firsts in your rooms.
21 months later we would welcome another baby, this one in the sunny green upstairs bedroom on a bright spring sunday morning. what a high it was to give birth to Gus, and what a sweet, sweet space that room was to spend my post-partum recovery period.
in the guest room (or sometimes the living room) we hosted friends as much as we were able: pilgrims just passing through for a night or two from other states, family members from wisconsin for a weekend, or a friend’s baby for an afternoon nap. we welcomed our neighborhood community and our church family into your small rooms for prayer times and meetings after the children were in bed, and we had birthday parties even though your rooms always felt too cramped when filled with so many friends. but it gave us so much joy to fill you with people we loved and with prayer.
in you we have experienced the full range of emotions and so may relationship dynamics. tim and i have fought, cried, been short with one another, and also had real moments of connection and sacrificial love. we’ve counseled friends in matters pertaining to faith or relationships or career choices or discipleship, all from the comfort of the couches or while seated around the dining room table.
the table. we have always eaten at the table in the dining room. for at least 2 out of 3 meals each day. i’m glad for that. the table feels like center, feels like home.
you get such good light, little house! as a photographer, i always appreciated the amount and quality of light that came in from every side, lighting photographs perfectly, and lightening my heart with its brightness.
your yard was always neglected! we never manicured it nor planted the tree i had dreamed of planting. but you had peonies (hallelujah!) and lilies and comfry and wild mint already growing and we enjoyed them as best as we could. we put in raised garden beds and tried our hands at vegetable gardening with the help of friends and neighbors. in spite of us, things grew, and we ate the food that grew in your yard.
there is much more i could say to you, dear house. but i want to end with this: i have always loved coming home to you. thank you for giving us nearly 3 beautiful and blessed years, and for hosting us as a fledgling family. you will always, always retain a special little corner in my heart.