Turtle's Progress

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The House

I am in the midst of trying to sell my house. This is a bitter sweet time. I have lived here for fourteen years (longer than I have lived in any structure during my lifetime) and have experienced many life-changing events while residing in this house.

My first husband and I purchased it in 1992 with plans to spend the rest of our lives here. We had recently retired from 20 years in the Navy, and our children were in middle school. We put in a pool, got to know the neighborhood, joined a church, and settled in for the long term. Something we had never been able to do as a Navy family.

By 1994 my husband had moved out and after 23 years of marriage we were on our way to divorce. I hated this house through the separation and divorce. I cursed my ex everytime I mowed the lawn or cleaned the pool – things we had planned to do together when we purchased the house. But became a burden and a chore as I did them alone. In the evenings I sat in this house and cried; mourning the loss of my marriage and the future I had thought was waiting for us here. I hated the empty spaces left by the furniture he had moved to his apartment. There was a void in the house that could not be filled no matter how hard my daughters and I tried.

My sister told me during those days that “time heals” and someday I would be able to look back and hardly remember the agony I was feeling then. She was right. And just as time healed my heart, time also slowly re-established my appreciation for my house.

My daughters and I continued to celebrate holidays, California family came for extended visits, the girls’ high school graduations were celebrated, and I slowly began to fill the empty spaces with newly purchased furniture, and newly experienced memories. The voids began to disappear.

I developed a new appreciation for my house. I grew to love the yard work, and pool maintenance. I nurtured the shrubs, pruned the trees, planted impatiens, and looked forward to mowing the grass. The girls were both off to college and the house became my refuge. I looked forward to relaxing at the end of the workday and learned to enjoy being alone. I journaled, read, watched TV, listened to music of my choice, spent time on the computer, ate when and if I wanted to, and answered to no one. The house helped me become whole again, or maybe for the first time.

In 1999, after being alone in my house for nearly five years, I was ready to move on. I met my current husband in June of that year. Our relationship developed slowly and we were married in 2003. This house has been an integral part of our relationship. Shortly after we met, and as he was leaving town for a few days, Tom brought strawberries and bagels over for a romantic early morning breakfast on the porch (a memory I cherish). He climbed the roof to do the one maintenance chore I had not tackled – clearing the gutters of accumulated pine straw. Together we enjoyed the pool, cooked out on the grill, entertained friends, and got to know each other. All in the shade of this house.

For our first Christmas he had a friend make two Adirondack chairs for the large back porch. That was the beginning of turning the porch into an additional living area. The porch has developed over the years with additional furniture, wind chimes, bird feeders, mini-lights, and a sense of peace. It has become my sanctuary, and the favorite part of the house for most people who visit us here. Most of my best memories of this house happened on the porch. Tom and I had lunch with the minister who performed our marriage ceremony. My beloved nephew told me he was gay. The church youth group I sponsored met weekly out here. I threw a party in celebration of one daughter’s college graduation and the other’s engagement. Our family and friends gathered here the night before our wedding. My loyal 13 year old dog, Tanya, died in her bed on the porch, and my new puppy, Cali, learned to climb up and down the stairs. I slept outside serenaded by the whippoorwills. My book group met to discuss our latest read. My “Little Sister” did her homework and mastered new math formulas. My grandson plays and swings.

My memories of this house are many and varied. But now I must prepare to move on. While I lived here I made this house my home. When I sell it and leave it will no longer be so. It will become the house where I used to live. The place I lived when I divorced and remarried, when my daughters were married, and when my first three grandchildren were born. It will also be the place I remember fondly, and with appreciation, where I learned to be, know and love myself.


At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Meg said...

Mom, you are so damn eloquent! :) blogging is definitely your forte! I was tearing up with all the memories you brought back!

At 7:39 PM, Blogger lori said...

I really, really wish I could write like you. I look so foward to reading your bolg. I check it at least four time a day to see if you posted anything. You really do have a gift Ter.

At 8:57 PM, Blogger erin said...

MOTHER! I refuse to read your blog again if you insist on posting tear-jerkers every time. Don't you ever have something light-hearted?! Isn't there a flying cockroach you can photograph? Here's an idea for your next post: "The Little Brown Dress Goes to School". It'll be real uplifting, I'm sure.

But seriously, that may be a printer-outer. Truly Beautiful.

At 7:55 AM, Anonymous Joyce said...

With all your memories written so well, truly there is a reason for everything that happens in one's life. While those days came and went, I remember telling you, thank the person involved with the event that happened in Calif. If not for that, you would not have that special friend and husband that you now have in your life.
There is certainly someone looking after those who give love to others.
I Love You, my dear friend..

At 2:57 PM, Blogger erin said...

Way to go with the sitemeter! I'm so proud, my little bloggin' momma!


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