“Do you want to dance?” he asked me, extending a hand. I was sweaty and flustered, covered in dust and cleaning solution and standing in the almost-bare kitchen of the house we were *thisclose* to signing over to the new family that will call it home. I was feeling exasperated, and sad, and I didn’t feel like dancing. But I put my hand into his anyway, because sometimes being a family means reaching out when you’d rather retreat into yourself instead.
And we danced.
We danced in the kitchen, the one we’d envisioned for our family and had turned into a reality one long and sticky summer in 2005. It was the heart of this home while we had one son, then another, and another yet again. It was where we gathered to eat our family meals, to celebrate holidays with extended family, to blow out the candles on homemade birthday cakes, to cry together when we mourned death and yes, to dance together when we felt overflowing joy and gratitude for this messy life we shared.
Jason Mraz sang about how we belonged to each other and I clung to my husband and cried, really really cried, for the first time in the process of letting go of the place I thought we’d be for many more years. I took a moment to forget the minutiae of the practical matters of getting ready and let my heart prepare for it, my eyes leaking all over Joe’s soggy shoulder. I swayed with him and let myself feel that this kitchen, this home that I loved so much and had worked so hard to create was but a shell that contained my real home: this man and our boys and me. And my real home just moved across town, to a place with more trees and turkeys and a kitchen too small to hold a family dance party.
This new home isn’t the place where I came home, terrified and overwhelmed new mother, and laid my baby into a crib in a sweet little nursery…three times over.
It isn’t the place I spent countless hours playing and tidying with toddlers, or working from home while questioning the wisdom in hitting the “pause” button on my career while the boys grew.
It isn’t the place where my children wore a bare dirt patch into the ground under the tree swing, where they practiced riding trike and bike, scraping knees and crashing into the fence before they learned to brake.
It isn’t the place we spent years perfecting for optimal use, rearranging spaces until finally it all felt like the puzzle pieces snapped into place. I have a lot of that ahead of me yet, in a completely new and differently daunting (though exciting) way.
But this IS the place where my boys will explore their natural world, and continue to grow like weeds with an unquenchable hunger. This is where they will have sleepovers, and nights around the firepit, and game nights around the dining room table. It is from here that they will graduate, and finally embark on their own quest for “home”, keeping a piece of this place as part of their home’s foundation. And I will add all of these new memories to the “home” I’m always building in my own heart. It’s okay that the vision changed. It’s okay that we had a change of venue. We’re still home.
There’s no need to complicate. Our time is short, this is our fate.
But I must share my gratitude for the house we’ve left, even as I settle into the place that is and will be. So thank you, Chamber Street. Thanks for being home. Thanks for teaching me so much, for sheltering me and my family. Thank you for being a piece of what we will all remember about building our true home together. We’ll always love you, and hope that your new family will cherish you and grow well in your protection, too.