The trip to Vegas did me wonders. I’m still feeling upbeat since my return. There was one moment on my trip, sitting in the sun talking with two friends, when I felt a warm tingle. During this particular moment, I felt life’s blessings surrounding me. I was warm. The sun was shining, and I was with friends. I felt humbled to know that they actually like me, chose to spend time with me, and that they cared for me. I knew it was one of those moments in life that would become a treasured memory, and I felt honored to know it as it was happening. I sat there thinking in disbelief, “These are good people, and they are my friends.” I had grown to believe that I did not deserve such things. I still smile at the thought of such a blessing in my life, a simple moment that made me happy to be alive and on this earth.
T and I are still trying to decide our future. After over twenty years of home ownership, it is very freeing not to own a home. Yet along with that freedom comes a sense of uncertainty. It feels almost transient to rent a home. Nothing is ours. The home is lovely, but the walls are white. Everything is neutral. Nothing, besides our belongings, signifies our own sense of style. There is NO sense of style. The joke each weekend is “Who is going to go down to the lobby for coffee and danish?” It feels like a very nice hotel…minus the staff.
Our landlords are willing to sell the house to us, and they’ve given us until March 15 to let them know our decision. Five days! We need to decide if we’re going to buy, if we’re going to sign another year’s lease, or if we’re going to move. It’s hard to imagine that it’s been almost a year since the day the nice realtor showed me nine houses in one day, and I fell in love with this house. I don’t remember if I ever wrote about it, but on that day, I knew this was the right place for us. This house was the last of nine houses I toured that day. When I returned to the car, there was a text waiting for me from T. He had sent me a picture of this very house. I was still sitting in the driveway, and I looked up from the text to the house and back again. He’d seen a picture of the house online and suggested that I check it out. T, who believes in nothing, even T believes that some higher power guided us to this place. Still…does that mean that we should buy this house? After all, I was looking to rent, not purchase. We knew nothing about the area. It was simply a quick decision made in one day of looking. So far, though, we have loved this house, the schools, and the neighborhood. Almost a year later, and I can’t complain about one thing about the decision to live in this house.
To make an informed decision, T and I have spent most of the past few Sundays driving around looking at other houses and neighborhoods. We’ve drawn a circle around our work locations and worked our way around what seems like a reasonable commute. We’ve seen neighborhoods that we like, beautiful homes, intriguing locations, but nothing has jumped out at us as “Home.” Yesterday was no exception. T, Lola, and I drove around for a few hours. On the way home, we stopped for pizza at a place near our house. It felt comfortable even though we still feel foreign. The people here talk funny, like a Saturday Night Live skit…”Da Bears!” It doesn’t feel like our old home, yet it’s becoming familiar. I’m feeling safer and more relaxed. There is even a certain comfort in hearing the strange Chicago accent. I missed the hard Chicago vowels when I was in Vegas. I missed the brusqueness, the mustaches, and the beer bellies. I missed chili cheese dogs! I missed my house, my job, and my neighborhood. All of these feelings made me realize that I’m falling in love with this new place, this new home.
As the sun was setting, after our pizza, we drove back into our neat little neighborhood. I love the tidiness, and newness of this place. I’ve jokingly calling it Stepford, but I like the fact that cleanliness and uniformity are a regulated (and enforced) priority in our housing addition. I felt my heart swell as we pulled into the entrance of our subdivision. As we wound down the curvy streets toward our house, I felt a sense of peace and familiarity fill me. I thought, “Maybe this is the place. Maybe we need to stop looking.”
Again tonight after a long, long day at work, I pulled into our housing addition, and I felt a sense of calm settle around me. I wound around the corner to see Lola and a neighbor girl walking our dog, Boo, across the front yard. Lola’s face beamed when we saw my car. She is thriving here. She talks about “Before and Now” with Now being so much better than Before. She loves her life here and doesn’t mourn the changes the past year has brought to her life. It’s like she was always meant to be here, in this place, with these friends, and in this house.
In less than two weeks, the girls and I are taking a trip. We’re going to New Orleans for a chick trip. I feel like a child waiting for Christmas. I am excited to spend special time with my girls. Five days of giggling, and hugging, and doing girly things. We’re having almost as much fun planning our trip as we will when we’re gone.
After the past few terrible, terrible years, I am exceedingly cautious. I greet optimism with one hand held over my head waiting for the next shoe to whack me. I wait for someone or something to pull the rug out from beneath my feet. I wait for something to intercede and ruin anything that causes me to anticipate life with a sense of happiness or optimism. I’m cynical and distrustful of anything that feels like happiness. I’m reluctant to even use the word happy. I want to come up with some kind of new word. Some word that describes cautious happiness, or guarded optimism. I suppose that word is called hope.