I walk through the house and the memories flow like water; or perhaps it would be more accurate to say “like tears and laughter”…
The confluence of our entry, living room, dining room, and hall is is such that a small circle is formed between the four spaces. At least once a week the kids chase each other from the hall through the door to the entry through another doorway to the living room, into the dining room, and back through another door into the hall. Round and around they go, shrieking with glee, sweat beading on their foreheads, exerting so much energy that they have to stop for water breaks. Sometimes Husband or I join in too; pretending that it is hard to catch them, we just miss them over and over again until finally we capture them and shower them with tickles, hugs, and kisses. I didn’t notice the possibilities of “the circle” at all when we first bought the house; but now I think that the circle is one of our homes finest features. I first really became aware of the circle when I was in labor with Older. Just as he does today, he took forever to make his appearance. The only thing that made labor pain tolerant for me (something that would hold true for me all three times) was movement. I was like the sad black jaguar at the zoo, pacing in my cage. Somewhere around 18 hours I found myself walking around the circle. I realized that if walked at just the right speed as a contraction hit I would go around the circle two times until it was over. I started walking on my own but grew more weary as the night went on, but stopping was not an option. Husband brought me our newly assembled baby stroller and so using it as walker of sorts I pushed it around the circle. Later, when that was too much, Husband walked backwards with me as I held his hands and leaned on him. As a contraction began to wash over me I would instinctively rise up on my tiptoes and walk en releve, eyes closed, listening to the squeak of the hardwood floors underneath me. As I rounded the final turn of my second lap, I would come down off of my toes knowing that the end of the pain was near. I cannot walk through any of those doorways without being reminded of those long hours seven and half years ago.
The truth is every room in the house evokes an emotional response from me. The living room: where we set up tables and held Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) for 26 people our first November in the house. The kids’ room: that we made over last summer while they were visiting their grandparents so that they came home and were surprised by a freshly painted and decorated room. Our bedroom: where I see the rocking chair were I estimate I have spent approximately 5,500 hours nursing and rocking our children. The kitchen: where I learned to can and preserve food and where I have felt (outside of nursing) most bonded to our children, cooking with them. Our backyard: where our beloved first cat is buried and we spent hours turning an overgrown jungle into a garden that produces hundreds of pounds of fruit and vegetables each year. Even the pantry makes me smile. When we first moved into the house our bedroom was not yet finished (we had plastic sheeting the windows – classy) so we put a double mattress in the pantry (it fit exactly) and slept there for a few nights.
We’ve lived in this house for eleven and a half years. Until that time the longest I had ever lived in one place was under three years. People talk about going “home”; to the home where their parents live and they grew up, but I have never had such a home to go back to. My home is here. It is not an exaggeration to say that a piece of my soul resides here in this little house.
Why am I thinking and writing about this right now? Last week Husband got a job offer, for a tenure-track faculty position at a university five hundred miles from here. It is a good offer, potentially a great career move for him, and in a town (we’ll call it “College Town”, because it is very much a typical college town) with well regarded public schools. We are strongly considering taking it. Of course, if we do, we will sell our home and this will become some other family’s little house and I am going to miss it so much.