It’s been a decade since I moved in to my house. I was 33, 8 months pregnant with my second child and still married to my first husband. Now, I’m 43, have been divorced and re-married, am a mother of two and stepmother of one. Along with just getting older, that’s a lot of change. For both me and the house.
When I moved in to the house, in 1999, it had just been built. Clean, fresh, new. It was exactly the house I wanted: the layout, the location, everything. I was where I thought I wanted to be. But things change. Carpet gets stained and needs to be replaced by Pergo. Lives change and divorce becomes a reality. Clothes expand to fill up the now-empty extra closet in the master bedroom.
After the divorce, the house felt smaller to me. I know that seems contrary to what you would think but, being single with two young children, I just didn’t use all of the rooms, not the formal dining room and not the den. But it still felt comfortable to me. And I was happy. Just me, my kids, the house.
After four years of being single, I re-married. (I got an awning off the back of the house for an engagement ring.) And the house suddenly seemed larger because we started using all of the rooms. The den became my new husband’s lair. He put a nice HD flat screen TV on the wall, moved in a computer and his filing cabinet. It is technically “his” space and he can close the French doors anytime he wants to. Though he doesn’t very often.
We now use the formal dining room frequently because my husband enjoys cooking for our friends and family. A few weeks ago, we had a dinner party for 12 and we all sat around the table with both leaves extended, eating and drinking for hours. Using the china and sterling flatware that I got for my first wedding and never used until this one.
And the guest room became my stepdaughter’s room. We changed it around some to make it feel homier to her and put in some pictures of her and her mom and of her and her dad. She keeps a Hello Kitty pillow on the bed and sleeps with it when she stays with us.
And, of course, I had to give up the extra closet in my bedroom, the one in which I put all my old, out-of-date clothes. I worked in retail in NYC in the late 80’s and had some jackets with really big shoulder pads. Also in the closet were all of my fat clothes, the clothes that fit me before I went through the stress of divorce. Stress is a natural weight loss tool for me. Though it could have been all the cigarettes that I was smoking. Before and after I would go for a run. I quit that at the end of 2003.
Not all of these changes were easy. Not getting rid of my old Rooms-To-Go plaid sofas. A few months before I re-married, my fiancé was going to move some of his furniture in and we were going to get rid of the old sofas, the ones I had bought when I first moved in to the house. One of which had an incredibly gross, yet incredibly sentimental, stain at one end where my son had been resting his head for seven years. My fiancé called me at work and told me the sofas were gone and I started to cry. My co-workers teased me about my reaction. But my tears came because the departure of the sofas marked the finality of leaving my old life behind, and the grief and sorrow associated with that. But it was time to move on.
And now it is all good, even when it is not. So, while I know that I shouldn’t be in love with inanimate objects, Pyrex measuring cup and iPhone not withstanding, I am in love with my house. The center of my domestic affections. And sure I’d like for it to continue to change, just like I am. French Doors to replace the sliding glass ones, a really nice outdoor kitchen. But we’ve been through a lot together, me and my house, in the last ten years and the house doesn’t feel inanimate. It is a part of me. It is my home, my non-traditional home, filled with lots of laughter, tears and struggles, but most importantly love, a lot of it. And I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.