When your home is not your house. — Personal
I have lived in apartments my entire adult life. It's the natural coarse of things when you're unsettled and young. It's the typical city lifestyle and it has always made the most sense. But times, the bitch thing about them is that, they do change.
When Adam and I moved to Portland five years and seven months ago, we were on the path of change. New city, new people, new jobs, new lives. We started from scratch financially, socially, creatively, and personally. Mourning what we had left behind yet invigorated by the vast unknown that lay before us. We dove into our new lives headfirst and boldly, and we flourished. We've built a good life for ourselves here, we're happy and stimulated and we look forward to the exciting challenges of our creative futures. Our roots are firmly planted here in Portland and its rich soil has nurtured our continued growth. And so now we do as settled adults do, and we buy a fucking house.
Yay! Yay? Umm, yay...
Here's the thing - I am in love with my apartment. It's spacious and interesting with its weird wallpaper and built in bookcases and china cabinet and shelf-like molding around the windows and doors. It even has wainscoting. Yeah, I had to Google that shit too. We have a fireplace and a huge front porch and a million windows that let in the loveliest light. There is hardwood floors that Tsunami literally dives headfirst into before he rolls around like an earthworm in the dirt - we call it swimming. There is carpet that connects the two bedrooms and hallway and this is Commodore's most favorite thing in the world. When we play chase this is where he runs to, digging is claws deep for traction he runs back and forth between those rooms with impressive agility and speed before ultimately collapsing in one of the rooms in order to rub and roll on the carpet, dragging himself along with his claws like someone with two broken legs trying to get from one end of the room to the other. It's adorable.
This is the place that housed our new lives. I was reborn in this apartment. I shed my angry, bitter New York skin and watched in awe as a happier, funnier me emerged. A me that rediscovered a passion for life that I had long forgotten even existed. This place is where my creative spark reignited. It's where I found a deep joy in horror movie nights spent alone. It's where Adam has made me laugh a thousand times. It's where I have cried a thousand more. I have made new friends here. Built relationships here. Hosted a hundred parties here and entertained out of town guests. I have painted every wall, rearranged every piece of furniture, cleaned every crevice and loved every inch. I know all of its lightness and all of its shadows. This is my home. But it is not my house.
About four years ago I started feeding the "wild" animals that live near us. Come to find out, birds and squirrels are just as territorial as any other animal, and I've been feeding the same three crows, two scrub jays and handful of crazy squirrels for years. They wait for me on my back porch. They caw for me and stalk me through windows. They would eat out of my hand if I didn't know better than to let them. I don't want to leave them behind. It makes my heart ache to think of them waiting for me in vain. Catching a promising movement through the kitchen windows they fly to their standard perch on the back porch railing, three different species patiently waiting together for their daily peanuts, a promise that would never again be filled.
And then there's the Bastard cat. A cranky and crotchety old stray tom who, despite all odds, weaseled his way into my good graces. He naps on the porch, plays with catnip filled mice, and gets two to three square meals a day complete with after dinner treats. We've known each other for years and yet he still terrifies me. He is unpredictable and wild and sometimes he gets this look in his eyes like Satan was born a big black cat and there he is, sitting in front of me with his yellow eyes and a level gaze that gives me chills. And he too waits for me on the back porch and stalks me through windows. He comes when I call for him and slinks out of the bushes when he hears the car pull up. He is Bastard and I love him. I will not leave him behind. My plan to move him to our new home is risky and unwise and scary. But I have no choice. He is coming with us. If he decides to leave, well, that's up to him. But I have to at least give him the choice. We'll see.
And then there's the fact that the thought of buying and moving into a house is making me feel very old. Normally I'm all about embracing my age and not being daunted by the more unpleasant elements of growing older. I am graced with a steely self confidence and pride and a resolve to not let the natural course of life get me down. So this feeling of dread associated with the idea of ultimate permanence has caught me unawares. I'm not one to shy from commitment. Adam and I have been together for nearly 14 years, and Commodore has been with me for just as long. I'm good at commitment. Dedicated to it. So why does this feel like I'm buying the plot of my final resting place? Perhaps it's the feeling of my gypsy soul's death rattle. I suppose I associate apartments with youth. With a carefree sensibility. People who live in apartments are spontaneous! Exciting! Houses are for adults. For boring people. They're stable and steadfast and predictable. Is that who I am now?
Now I know we can eventually sell and move. And we may. It's rare these days for someone to buy and live in just one house for their entire lives. But it's also rare these days for people to marry and stay with just one person for their entire lives. So I guess I'm looking at buying this house like getting married all over again. I'm in it for the long haul. Or until it dies from cancer.
I know in my heart that none of this is true. It's simply an emotional panic rising up into my throat and clouding my mind with nonsense. It is fear of failure. Fear of being in over our heads. Fear of making a poor choice, a bad decision, a mistake. Fear is what keeps us stagnant. It's what prevents us from taking chances and moving forward in our lives. Fear is the enemy and it will not win here. But it's putting up a damn good fight.
With all that said, I'm extremely excited about this house. I know that we will be happy there and that we will continue to grow and prosper and be just as fun and silly and carefree as we've always been. And it's a good house. It's spacious and light with all hardwood floors, four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fireplace, a full partially finished basement, and a great back yard peppered with rose bushes. I imagine myself reading on a hammock in the summer under a warm sun. I will paint my office walls a Robin's egg blue and write my masterpiece there, in a cool ocean of peace. Adam's piano playing will fill the house and I will sing quietly to myself, making up words to his melodies. We will host a hundred parties there and entertain out of town guests. Tsunami will be suspicious of stairs and Commodore will meow into empty corners to hear his own echo. It is where Adam will make me laugh a thousand times, and where I will cry a thousand more. My home will finally be my house.
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