Of course I fantasied the whole thing: the empty living room filled with soft candle light, sipping champagne while eating shrimp with broccoli in garlic sauce out of cartons on the bare cherry floors. Claire (a happy three year old) running up and down the stairs with delight. Our heads tossed back, my long blonde hair swinging, laughter ringing in the airy rooms.
We'd be rolling in joy,
except I've never had long blonde hair and fantasies, although juicy and fun, don't always pan out.
I'd always been a renter. We'd had five wonderful years in our old house. The lone bending birch tree out front. The great neighbors, the house where I painted the door Chinese red seven months pregnant with Claire, it's still red. This was a big step. This new house would be ours (and the bank's).
Closing day, Michael's back went out so bad he could barely lift a coffee cup. Timing is a curious thing. His back went out when he proposed to me too. To add insult to injury, he was vomiting buckets in the bathroom, a sudden, horrific attack of the stomach flu.
Wait a minute, buster.
You can't do this.
It's moving day.
Does anyone remember The Exorcist? Somehow, papers got signed.
During the closing, we learned the electric had been turned off without switching the account to us. Okay. Our new house had no lights, no heat. It was the middle of winter. Michael's head was in the toilet. I'm pretty sure there was no drinking champagne that night. Who would I clink my glass with? The dog?
I remember turning the key, stepping into our new house. The empty rooms, my dog's nails clicking on the wood floors. The electric guy showing up in the dark, shining his flashlight. I shined mine back. I thought, if he tries anything, I'll hit him on the head and run. Instead, Che licked the guy's hands, we found the fuse box, lights turned on, heat too. I stood in front of the picture window, hand on Che's velvety head and felt the deepest surge of gratitude.
Like all the places we live, if only the walls could talk. A lot happens in fourteen years...
Our beloved dog, Che, died.
Dad lived here. Now he's gone.
Jesse beat cancer here.
Storms took down huge trees.
Claire's princess slippers turned into cross-country running shoes.
My beloved mother-in-law slipped away this past September.
Last week's house anniversary would've been her 90th birthday.
Michael's never had the flu like that again.