Hunkering down in a blizzard seems like a good time to dream about the future. Specifically, the future that includes sunshine and beaches, but also that long-term model, the one that everyone keeps reminding me will be worth this in the end.
And what is my long-term model? I’m envisioning a life of warmth, laughter. Freedom. Financial security. A home where everyone is welcome, humans and canines, with a stray cat or two hunkering on the porch. A home where my kids’ friends sleep over and if I spend hours cleaning and its trashed in a day or two with muddy footprints or dirty dishes and dog hair that’s okay because those are the signs of life. A house that is a home.
It was brought to my attention, thanks to my lovely therapist-slash-medium friend, that this place, the home that has been mine for years, is no longer my home. I think she meant this in a lot of ways. There is no doubt that I love this property. I love (almost) everything about it. Both aesthetically and emotionally. It was, for all intents and purposes, my dream house. Not simply because of a deck off my bedroom that opens to a glorious view, or because of a patio that is both perfect for solitude and large gatherings, or because of the hawks that routinely grace me with their presence…but also because it was the home I always dreamt of. The place where my little monsters took their first steps and played in the snow for the first time and had nearly every single birthday party of their lives. It was where friends gathered, so many times, crowded around the kitchen table or the fire pit outside. It was the place my husband and I lived together for the bulk of our relationship.
And that, really, is where it breaks back from being a home into just being a house. Because of all the lies, its hard to look back and feel nostalgic in the proper way that nostalgia should feel – a little bitter, but mostly sweet. Instead I’m thinking back to all the times I was blissfully ignoring his distance or his mood and he was, well, lying to me. About so. many. things. I’m starting to think that his little tryst with the Trollup was really just the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m not even sure he knows anymore what’s a lie and what’s the truth.
Among the many, many lies he has told me, the one that takes the cake is the one I most recently learned of…well, it’s a new one. Apparently, according to PC, I am accused of marital misconduct. Why you ask? Because I lied to and manipulated him for the duration of our marriage. About what, you ask? The severity of a disability I have since I was 4 years old. Anyone who knows me is well aware of this, both the fact and the level of difficulty I struggle with.
But, for all these years I supposedly lied and manipulated PC about that. PC, the person who was my emergency contact for everything. PC, who had my legal permission to speak on my behalf for things like health insurance. PC, the person I depended on to save the family if the smoke alarm went off. PC, the one person I ever really expressed how sensitive I am and how it makes me feel that I have limitations. And now, PC, in what might truly be his greatest lie of all time, claims I deceived him about the severity of her disability and therefore, he should not be financially responsible for anything that has to do with me.
But I digress. Back to the house. So as yet another injustice of this whole big swirling storm, I must give up my home. There is simply no way for me to afford it, and PC has adamantly stated he is keeping it. This was one of the sharpest sticks in the beginning of this…how could he just announce he was keeping it? I didn’t get a say? You’re going to move your Trollup in to my house after you kick me out? But unfortunately, money controls everything and so I was encouraged to start looking at houses so that when the ball gets rolling here (right now its stuck in the mud thanks to, what else, LIES) I am ready to go.
At first, this was depressing. I didn’t want to live in a development. I don’t want a ranch house or a split level. I hate all the postage stamp backyards. I don’t want neighbors who can see into my window from theirs. There’s no view. It’s not fair. How come PC gets my glorious home on a multi-acre property and I get a shithole on the side of a highway? (Slight drama, yes.) Point is: I was not excited to look at houses. But then this beauty came along….
Isn’t it lovely???
Just kidding. But a big white house came along. It kept cropping up on searches and I kept driving by. And while it’s not actually Victorian, its majestic on the outside and has a wrap around porch. So I decided to take a look at it, even though it’s a fixer-upper, and my level of expertise about “fixing up” directly starts and ends with knowing how to buy a can of paint at Lowe’s.
And the inside is rough. It needs work. A lot of work. Like, stripping wallpaper, demolition, kitchen renovation, carpet removal type of work. Like, digging deep into your soul to really find out what you can and cannot live with and without. (Dishwasher? Probably. Only one bathroom? Ok. Mustard yellow and turquoise bathroom? Musty carpet?) It is a house that would be a labor of love.
But. The bones are there. The bones are there, and they’re strong. The charm is evident. The character and the uniqueness and the nod to the past with nooks and crannies and gadgets and walls upon walls of faded wallpaper. There is a yard that is exactly small enough to maintain and exactly big enough for 2 children and a dog. There are porches upon porches…the perfect outdoor sitting areas for all occasions. It is located “in town”…a place that is close to everything we do, convenient for all the community events. It just isn’t livable without some work.
Except it kind of is. One (and one’s children) could technically move in as-is and live. It is evident when you walk through the house (still partially furnished) that it was a home that someone loved and took pride in. A home that a family inhabited, raised children, and likely grandchildren. A home that was well-kept anc cherished. A home. Not just a house.
So in the deep words of my therapist-slash-medium friend (really. Everyone needs a friend like this.) The house is a metaphor for my life. Everything is grand and beautiful on the outside, even to myself. Nice family, 2 kids, happy marriage, security. But on the inside, meh. Needs some work. Time to gut everything, pull out all the stops, and rebuild. Make the life I envision with my kids from the inside out. Recognize that it will take time. Understand that although this place here, on the side of my mountain, was my home. It wasn’t a mirage just because PC was a mirage of lies. It was still a home but it’s not anymore. Let him and the Trollup live here. Thinking of her lounging on MY patio and waking up to MY view each day hurts, not gonna lie. But she’s also going to be waking up next to a selfish asshole liar who has probably already lied to her about everything, so there’s that.
So, she gave me a gift, really. She took PC. And his lies, and now I am free of all that. She can have it. My new house (come on, inspection. Pass!) will not be perfect. But it will be authentic. It will be real. It will be a place where people never, ever walk on eggshells and a place where lies are never tolerated. It will be a place where everyone is welcome. A place of laughter. A place where the next chapter of my life will begin. Even if it’s not this particular house, that place will happen…a place where every single person there is a contributing member of the family.
A place that is a home, in every sense of the word.