We moved into this house when being pregnant with Zach was still new to me. I hadn’t started having many complications yet, and thus no bedrest. But being the pessismist that I was, I knew what was coming and wanted to find something as cheap as possible. Our old place, though huge and roomy enough, was more expensive in every way: rent was $300 more monthly. It was an old rehabbed mansion, so the electric bills were enormous. I was paying it–and I am talking between $800 and $1000 per month–only to discover, upon moving out, that we were supplying all of the common areas for the multi-unit building.
I found this house. Smaller, but much, much cheaper. It needed work. Lots of work. The owner told me to do whatever I needed to make it acceptable for us, that he hadn’t had any time to do so on his own. He would take whatever improvements we made off of our rent. Then bedrest happened, and we never got a chance to do anything. And then we had Zach, and I had to learn to budget for 4 people instead of 3. And there were the pregnancy medical bills. And it still didn’t happen. And then last October, while working overtime like a dog to pay off some bills, I brought home bedbugs from work. Not bad. We caught it early. But still, treatment was thousands of dollars. Plus, in my paranoid state, I trashed all of our furniture just to be sure. We needed new stuff anyway. Since then, we lived like vagabonds. An air mattress at first, though the kids still had their beds. No living room furniture. Piles of stuff everywhere, as we had thrown out several dressers/ storage pieces. Despite all of this, I still could not be comfortable here. I would be fine at work, but when home, I would feel this psychsomatic itching, as if something was crawling all over me. I was convinced I was not crazy, and so I called the pest control company back. I made them spray again. I was sure there was something going on, and I was afraid I would have to trash more furniture in my paranoia, so I just didn’t buy anymore. When the pest control company assured me the house was fine, I tried to relax, but couldn’t. I called a second company, who told me that, while they would love to take my money, they saw nothing here and I should get on with my life, that I never should have trashed my furniture in the first place, that they could have treated it. I waited a couple of more months, and then I called a third company in. Again, just to be sure. Again, I waited a couple of months.
This past week, I took a lot of money and I bought new stuff. Sofa, recliner, coffee table, end tables. 2 area rugs. A new dining room table and chairs. A new mattress and boxspring for us. New chests for the bedroom. I need to replace my desk and our entertainment center, but that’s all that’s left to replace. And window treatments, since the blinds are in horrible disrepair, and really have been since we moved in. The massive Yoko Ono bed that was in the living room? Well, it wouldn’t fit the new mattress, and thus it is now Evan’s bed, as we had originally planned. John and I spent 2 back-breaking days working on de-cluttering, arranging, moving out what we didn’t want anymore. Packing up what we wanted and didn’t need. I got a little sad when we packed up Zach’s Pack&Play–are those days really gone so soon? Lo and behold, this looks like a home again.
I haven’t felt uncomfortable here since. I look forward to coming home from work now. I can relax here again. Except for the bedroom. I cannot sleep there for some reason, unless I am so tired that I pass out. I lay there in the bed and I look at the walls, the ceiling above me. That second slat on the intake vent that it slightly bent. A small knick in the paint in that one corner. I know those walls, that ceiling. I stared at them for months of my life. I focused on that chip in the paint as I was breathing through all of those contractions. I bit the corner of that pillow to keep from screaming from the pain of the progesterone injections sometimes when they were really bad. That room, those walls—they were my prison, really. For months and months. Sure, I would break orders and switch rooms, go to doctors’ appointments and ultrasounds, trips to the hospital. They were always so short, and I would always return to the room. And even now, As I lay there, unless I drop off to sleep immediately, it starts to feel like the walls are closing in on me. It’s almost like a panic attack and I have to squeeze my eyes shut and put myself someplace else. A coworker/ friend suggested I have PTSD from my pregnancy. How bizarre is that? What’s even more bizarre is that I think she may be a tad right. And then I feel really silly. I mean, Zach is 16 months old and I still can’t stand that room? I guess this is really the first time I am sleeping there since he was just a few months old.
John hates this house. He wants to move. I don’t want to yet. I think that, if we can make this work a couple of more years, we can build a house. I’m worried about the expense. I make the money and I manage it, and I know that there are some things coming up. Big things. Autism spectrum disorders are notoriously expensive. As is grad school. And this house, though horribly flawed and small, is cheap. And as a result of us living here, we can afford to enjoy life a little more. I can take the boys to Toys ‘R’ Us on a whim and buy them each something they like for no reason at all. I can keep Evan in parochial school and not worry that the tuition is going to kill us. In a couple of years, I will have an MBA, John will hopefully be employed full-time, and I can afford to build new and still do all of those things in comfort.
This house? It isn’t a palace by any means. And yet it is. Because we have history here. And we have each other. This house is filled with all of the things and people I love most in the world. And while there are some scars, there are some pretty awesome memories. The best 5 weeks of my life were spent here: newborn Zach, Evan out of school for the summer, me on maternity leave and not bedrest. And it was just us. My boys and I. Family. And that spot over there? It was there that I would nurse Zach in the early days. And this other place over here? I would sit and help Evan with his homework. And over there, John and I would cuddle and watch movies together, ever the homebodies, as he would place his hands on my pregnant belly and feel Zach kick, talk to him through me.
It isn’t that I think that the memories will disappear when we move. I know they will always be with me. And I know that a home is more than just walls and roof. We will make new memories wherever we go. I guess this is the reason this house doesn’t bother me so much anymore. No house will ever be my home. No. My boys are my home. This house is just my physical address.