Wednesday, January 16, 2013

House On Kenwood

It was nothing fancy. It had cheap builder's grade carpet & gaudy brass fixtures. The linoleum was long overdue for an upgrade to tile & the back deck was begging for a new stain job. The cabinets were oak & from the day I laid eyes on them, I wanted to paint them white--but just never mustered up the courage.

It's funny, now that the house on Kenwood isn't ours anymore, those projects around the house that seemed to loom over my head & drive me absolutely nuts at times--they've come to mean nothing at all. Instead, when I picture that split level house with gray siding & black shutters, when I reflect to the place we called home for more than ten years, I see so much more...

I see Jared, calling me up at ten o'clock at night after he'd just looked at the house on Kenwood for the first time. For months we had been casually looking at houses & what we could afford was nothing more than--well,  junk.  I was in my last year of college & Jared was just a few months into his new entry level career, making our price range for homes pretty skimpy. But to my surprise, the call on this particular Fall evening was different than all the previous ones. Instead of the usual, "It was okay." or "Oh, you would have been so grossed out at the one I looked at today", I actually heard excitement. The house on Kenwood had just gone on the market, was only two years old, exactly the style we loved & was at a price {in our range} that our realtor knew wouldn't last until even the next morning. So Jared & his parents took a trip at ten o'clock that night to look at the house. After a quick call from Jared saying, "This is it, babe. I wish you could see it. You just have to trust me. It will be perfect for us. You'll love it.", he signed papers that night & by the weekend, we got the phone call saying it was ours. He was right. It was perfect for us. And I loved it at first sight.

I see a picture perfect engagement. It was November & I knew in my heart a proposal was on the horizon. I expected he'd be popping the question in the Spring--right around my birthday & just before my college graduation. We'd talked about marriage--about kids--about our future together. He had just bought a house. It was the obvious next step in our relationship. But honestly, it was the last thing I expected on this particular Friday night. When I pulled up to the house, Jared had the garage door open for me. This was typical of Jared--to make sure I'm all taken care of & I hardly thought anything of it. As I jumped out of my Jeep & began unloading my bags, I did, however, take note that he wasn't coming out to help me with my things. This was not typical of Jared. We'd been doing the long distance relationship thing for a year & a half at this point & come Friday night, we were always so eager to see each other. He was always usually busting down the door to get to me. I just figured maybe he didn't hear me pull in so I gathered my stuff & went in through the downstairs entry. It was a split entry house so all I could see were the first set of steps before me. I was greeted with ribbons of pink & in front of me dangled a card on one of the ribbons. I could see a few balloons sprinkled on the steps & landing up above, but I had yet to figure out he was up to something big. This kind of thing wasn't out of the ordinary for Jared. He's a hopeless romantic & has always done little things to surprise me. This was my first trip from school to the house on my own {every other time I had driven over with him} & I just assumed he was trying to make it special for me. Trying to welcome me "home" for the first time.  But then I pulled the card from the ribbon & begin to read:

Holly, we've been together for x amount of days, x amount of hours, x amount of minutes...

{Sorry, it's been a long time & I can't remember the exact numbers he had figured up & written out}. At this point, my hands began shaking & I knew. I was paralyzed. I could only stand still as still can be & shout from the bottom of the stairs, "Jared?!?!" He encouraged me to come on upstairs & as I did, I took in the view around me--hundreds & hundreds of pink balloons, candles lining every window sill, twinkle lights strung all over the every inch of the floor. He had no living room furniture just yet, so there was a lot of ground to cover--& it was completely covered--in pink, twinkly, beautiful perfectness. In the corner of the room he stood with flowers & a tiny little box in his hand. Moments later he was asking me to be his wife & I was saying, "Yes!" 

I see waking up one morning just a few days before our wedding to find the little flower bed around our birch tree out front, full of pink petunias. I had no clue where they had come from. I called Jared-- he didn't know, either. Come to find out, our neighbor, Melinda, had planted them as a pre-wedding present to us. To this day, I find that gesture to be one of the sweetest I have ever known. And every Spring following that first one, just as soon as the weather began to softly shift, I'd carefully choose the perkiest pink petunias I could find at the the flower nursery. I would take them home along with a bag of potting soil & spend an entire Saturday morning & afternoon under that birch tree, planting to my hearts desire. Those pink petunias were a so special to me--a reminder of precious neighbors. A reminder of the blessed day of our marriage.  

I see two little baby nurseries. One a soft hue of blue & the other a calm shade of cream. Jett's newborn outfit hanging on a hook in the corner & Lulla's baby tiara on a shelf above the changing table. I see countless nights spent rocking my babies close to my chest & the daydreams I envisioned as I gazed upon their angelic sleeping faces. The first days. The beginning of life as three...& then as four. Those little nurseries hold so many memories.

I see my pear tree in the back right corner of the yard--the one Jared & Jett planted for me for my very first Mother's Day & ended up killing that first year {who knew a tree could get TOO much water?}. But Jared replaced it with a new one & this one grew & bloomed & changed a beautiful shade of red in the Fall. I loved that tree. I got excited to see when had grown as tall as the fence line, when new branches began sprouting out, when tiny pears started to form. It was my tree & it held so much meaning to me.

I see driveway parties with our neighbors. Driveway parties were never planned, but there seemed to be something about a kiddie pool in the summer & a fire pit in the Fall that baited our neighbors-- hook, line & sinker-- to join us with their bag chairs for an entire evening on the front drive. We covered all sorts of subjects ranging from potty training to politics, but no matter the topic, we never had a dull evening lacking laughter. Neighbors became friends & friends became family on that driveway.

I see a cold, empty house--my last memory of the house on Kenwood. We went as a family just one final time to do a quick walk through & to say good-bye to the home that had served us well for so many years.  It was cold & dark & bare & as we looked around, it was impossible to find even a glimpse of us there anymore. I sat on the floor of the living room with Lulla & Jared held Jett in his arms.  As I looked up at the two of them, I noticed tears in Jett's eyes. His voice cracked as he said to us, "I sad. I want to go." At that point, the tears I'd been choking back from the moment I walked through the door bursted into hot streams down my face & I reassured Jett that it was okay to feel sad, that I feel sad, too. Honestly, I was right there with him--I wanted to just go. To get out of the house that was nothing more than just a skeleton of the home it once was. We got in the car, shut the garage to leave the house on Kenwood for the very last time & my heart ached with a pain that ran deep.

To be honest, leaving that home has been a little bit of a challenge for me--especially that first week. Our new home didn't feel like home yet & I found myself yearning to just go back to my little house on Kenwood. I wanted to shop at my usual little grocery store & I wanted to call my neighbor over for a coffee. I looked around at our new house which seemed much too big, with it's bare walls in colors of brown, medium brown & dark brown {I cannot wait to get a splash of color up in here} & I became overwhelmed at the fear that maybe it would never feel like home, not in the way the house on Kenwood did, anyways. All I could see was a place that didn't look like us. It mirrored the same skeleton of a home that had me bursting into tears just days prior & I was terrified I would never settle in. But lo & behold, the sun rose one morning & I had a strange pep in my step. At about the week & a half to two week mark, I started to make a turn for the better. I lit a candle, put up a photo of the kids, sprinkled some throw pillows on the couch & spouted off to the brown, medium brown & dark brown walls, "You & me? We're gonna tango here soon."

Jared says I'm a processor--that it takes me time to sort things out in my head--especially when it comes to the big scary, hairy word--change. He sensed my unsettledness without me ever uttering a word to him, but he knew also that as soon as I had time to process everything in my own time, that I'd come around. He's right. And I am just so thankful that he never questioned my brief periods of doubt as ungratefulness or unhappiness. He gets me & I am so glad he does.

Our house on Kenwood, it holds some of the most beautiful moments of our lives & one day down the road, when my heart isn't so sore to the touch, I'll be able to drive by it with a smile. I'll tell our kids about the evenings spent playing in that backyard & the unforgettable afternoons of walking through the door when bringing them home from the hospital.

But for right now, there are paint colors to pick out, family photos to hang on the walls, personal touches to be sprinkled here & there, neighbors to be greeted & most of all--memories to be made.

There's a house just dying to become a home--our home.

1 comment:

  1. I remember those first moments at your Kenwood house! I remember looking at it online right when Jared was buying it...and I remember that proposal!! :) You guys will have so many new memories made in your new home!! And, it will be fun to pick out new paint and everything else that comes with making a house your home. What a fun walk down memory lane!!