It’s been on my list for ages to write a post that was an "ode" of sorts to our first little house. I just hadn’t gotten a chance to really put it into words. There is a space in Clare’s baby book for “a picture of your first house” and I think that’s what sparked the thought originally.
My friend Carol, who was also the mom of two of my first piano students when I started teaching at age 19 and who with her husband Kendall has been our landlord for the last 6 years lost her battle with breast cancer and passed away last week. Our little duplex was also her first house. And while we may just be renters, it will always truly feel like our first home.
At Carols funeral, the priest spoke about “dwelling places” and all of the places that Carol called home, and it really struck me because we are living in one of the first places that she called home and it is because of her that we have been lucky enough to call this place our home for the last 6 years (and continue to do so!)
It seems like there's always a reason to want more or to not be satisfied with what we already have. Words often heard around here lament “I can’t wait till we have a bigger bathroom.” “I can’t wait till we have a dishwasher” “I can’t wait till we can have a real garden, or a better place to keep the cat litter." Stressing that we aren't in a position to afford to live somewhere bigger, always worried about being too cramped when we have large groups over because there just isn’t enough space for everyone. And on and on.
But when I really stop and think about it, there are so many wonderful things about this little house that far outweigh the rest and we have made so many unforgettable memories here. The charm that only a 50 year old house could have, we've got a pull down ironing board, a mail slot, a full brick walled fireplace and an adorable kitchen to living room "window." Someday way in the future when we do upgrade to something bigger or decide to buy a house, there will be even more memories that we will be leaving behind.
This is the house where we came home from our wedding and honeymoon to. Our newlywed home. (While Carol took care of our sick kitty while we were gone.) After the exhaustion of wedding planning and traveling, it really felt like a wonderful home to return to.
This is the house that we lost my dear kitty of 14 years, Kitters in. That week of finals, I will never forget laying with her in the hallway knowing this was probably the last day I would have her. Waiting for Chris to come home so we could go to the vet.
This is the house that Chris started his career with Amtrak. After several years of us both working 5 jobs combined and him working 7 days a week, I remember sitting in the office with him all dressed up for training and thinking, wow, we’re really starting a new chapter.
This is the house that I graduated from college in. Where we had my college graduation party. Where so many college choices and decisions were made.
This is the house where I made huge career changes myself, leaving my stable state job for a subsequent marketing job and then letting myself accept and realize how much I hated corporate environments, Chris and I making the choice to go off the pill and start a family.
This is the house where I had a full blown mental breakdown in Spring of 2013, after the hormonal cascade of stopping the birth control pill. This house was my safe place to get through that incredibly tough span of time. Wrapped in blankets with Chris watching hours upon hours of West Wing.
This is the house where in early June 2013 I peed on a stick and ran into the kitchen waiving it in Chris’s face yelling “I TOLD YOU” and him lifting me up and spinning me around.
This is the house where I went into labor, and spent nearly a full day laboring before Clare’s birth. Walking the neighborhood over and over with Chris, my mom and our awesome doula Nataly. Kissing my Bertie cat goodbye and telling him we’d be home with his ‘sister’ soon.
Rocking in a chair in this living room with a tiny newborn on my chest is where I had the epiphany that childbirth education and birth work is what I was meant to do.
It’s where Clare had her first smile, said her first word, took her first steps and had her first Christmas.
Crammed with love, this house was full to the brim with friends and family for both of Clare’s one-year-old birthday parties.
So far there have been six Christmases, countless birthdays, other parties, get-togethers, book clubs, clothing swaps, this house is so full of memories and love. Tears shed, news relayed, some of our hardest days and some of our most joyful. This little house will always have a very special place in my heart.
Thank you, Carol (and Kendall!). Even though cancer took you from us far too soon, I can feel your sweet spirit permeating the walls of this place we call home, and I am so grateful that you have allowed us this space to live in as part of our journey.