I’m back. I always come back. We spent the last month buying a new, larger home, and moving. Hooray. That will be the only excitement you’ll get from me.
I revisited the writing I did when we bought our prior house, a decade ago, as first-time homeowners. I was young, excited, and chipper as fuck about it. Which was fine. I deserved my excitement and chipperness. I deserved my youth. As I’ve grown older, my excitement has become a feeling of relief. My chipperness has been replaced with weariness.
In our first home, I had wanted features like a basement for the arcade, and a big yard for the in-ground, heart-shaped swimming pool. I dreamed big. I dreamed hard. In our second home, we wanted good sight lines to make sure our children weren’t suffocating each other while we made dinner and paid bills on the computer.
The arcade never happened. Instead the heat pump broke in the middle of a frigid winter and needed a replacement. No one really, seriously wanted a heart-shaped pool, with LED lights and neon palm trees and music piping in from decorative rocks. Anyway, the old backyard had a grading problem, bowlegged and mangly with vines and roots, grumpy and stubborn. It didn’t want to be raked over and fussed with.
I tried to grow grass, and then moss. I researched paver patios and planted things that never grew. I strung rope lighting along the deck, which had an ambience about it, until the mosquitos came out to feed. Eventually I found a peaceful co-existence with the yard, the ugly thing, bare and naked, but it never flooded my basement, nor swallowed my home. It held us, our piece of the world, and I yanked up its weeds and shooed away its cobwebs. This turned out to be more spiritually fulfilling than my Las Vegas pool idea, but like I said, I deserved my youth.
We got a dog. We brought newborns home. We painted rooms. We fought. We replaced the roof. We planned vacations and pretended the condos were ours, and that we lived seaside, but it always felt so good to be back home, once we were.
Most of the neighbors turned over in the decade we lived there. We were the last ones left. It was fine, but it also felt sad — a sadness in the way old people seem to carry sadness, in a plain and neutral way, like a stick of gum in the handbag. The people that were there are gone — not that I knew them, not that I miss them, but only that things have changed. And now we have changed, too. We are gone, too.
But we are also still here. We bought a house in the same neighborhood. It has the same DNA and bones as our first home, just up the street. It has the sightlines and the spare rooms, an extra bathroom, a good roof. It also has a space for an arcade, and a hot tub, a tire swing, and a hammock. I still dream hard. I still flirt with backyards that will never have me.