Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Long Overdue Introduction

This is my house, the one on the right, by the tree.

I have some posts planned, but it suddenly occurred to me that you might not fully understand them without a proper introduction to my house.

Remember how last year I mentioned it was hard finding a place to live here?  My exact words were "crazy story for another time," but I forgot to tell you the crazy story.  So typical of me.  Anyway, here it finally is.

We got here at the end of June (last year) after driving across the country, and set out to find a place.  While our house was in the process of selling, there had been several that were "just perfect," but of course, I didn't think it was prudent to rent a house until our sale was complete (since we still own a house in Virginia).  But we figured that with the school year ending, people would move, and there would plenty to choose from.

Wrong.  So terribly wrong.

There were a few houses in the town that we didn't want to live in that would have been okay, but we weren't crazy about them.  But I really wanted to live in this town -- for several reasons including but not limited to: 1) proximity to the hospital I wanted to have Wyatt in 2) the majority of my friends living here, and 3) proximity to the dance school I wanted the girls in, and 4) lack of condemned trailer parks right next to the nice neighborhoods with the houses we were considering. (I'm not joking... it's weird and creepy.)

But that town is closer to Matt's work, so if we didn't find anything here, we would have gone ahead with a house there.  So basically we had three choices when we moved here: 1) a very small house with a landlord who lived in Hawaii and couldn't set up a time with his friend/ property manager so we could see the inside.  It was cute, though, and may have been okay if we'd managed to line things up. 2) a GORGEOUS house with an AMAZING view... but uptight landlords who weren't enthusiastic about renting to a family with two dogs, AND there was no yard to speak of.  AND it was 3 bedrooms, and we were hoping for 4.  3) A house with a great floor plan and yard, but everything inside was super cheap "rental" quality, and there were kind of sketchy-looking neighbors.  And as a military family, we usually have people bending over backwards trying to get us to rent from them because they know we have to pay on time every month or else, but the property managers for this place acted like we were criminals or something, and they were doing us an enormous favor by letting us even see it.  So weird.  But the very worst part of it was that when we walked inside, the entire floor except the kitchen -- yes, even in the master bathroom -- was covered with white carpet.  A sign posted by the front door said, "Please remove your shoes."  Can you just see me trying to keep four kids and two dogs from messing up a pristine, snowy-white carpet???  Me either.

It was disappointing, to say the least.  We scoured classifieds and Craigslist, and drove around town looking for "For Rent" signs till the kids were carsick.  We filled out an application for the house with the amazing view and the most likeable one in the other town, but hung onto both for a couple days.  Finally it was the day before we were going to head to California to visit family for a week, and then we were coming home for Matt to start his new job.  Decision time.

I prayed one last time that if there was anywhere else for us to live in town that God would show us right now.  I clicked on Craigslist.  Nada.  Clicked on militarybyowner... and this house was there.  The landlords were nice and easy-going, the wife missed the dog she'd left when she married her husband and moved up here.  They had a baby a year before Wyatt was due.  There was a small... very small... *ahem*... yard, four bedrooms, hardwood downstairs, beige carpet upstairs.  A huge playroom.  And rent was $200 less than the other places.

We said we'd take it.

When I write this story, I can remember what a godsend this house felt like at the time.  But since then, I've felt less than thrilled about it.  For one thing, there is almost no built-in storage (a detail I overlooked because I was so thrilled about the hardwood).  The yard is very, very small... oh, did I mention that already??... and it's on a corner next to a busy street at the bottom of a hill that scares me when I hear traffic on it, especially on icy cold nights.  The dishwasher has some ticks that drive me batty... you basically have to do all but a weird dance and lay hands on it to get it to turn on.  And this is going to sound silly, probably, but it's a townhouse, and that has been a point that embarrasses me when I see the houses most of my friends live in.

Isn't it ridiculous how we get?

I mean, I was born and halfway raised in Bangladesh.  There, my neighbors across the street lived in mud huts with straw roofs, the entire family in one small room.  I played with those kids.  But even their homes were far, far better than some of the "houses" I saw when I moved to Dhaka -- plastic bags and newspapers spread over sticks taking up space the size of my much-smaller-than-I'd-like-walk-in closet.  Oh, how far I've come... it almost makes me sick.

My insecurity about my house not looking like I think it should, both inside and outside, has extended to the point of not wanting to invite anyone but my closest friends over.  I obsess about the fact that no one would "pin" pictures of it as inspiration and wonder what I can do "better."  When I console myself, I say things like, "In certain cities, this would be very hip." But I still hesitate to invite anyone in.

Well, going back to my Bengali "roots"...  Hospitality there is taken to a whole new level.  In some of the villages we went to for my parents' work, they would hear we were coming and send someone to walk five miles to another village to get spoons for us to stir our tea.  They would serve us plentifully, even though we surely had so much more than they did.  It was embarrassing then, but it's even more embarrassing now to think how inhospitable I can be.

So.  Come on in.  This is my house.

It isn't perfect.  But it's safe (aside from random instances of drunk guys trying to get in, and that street that exercises my prayer life), with nice neighbors, and it's very cozy.  It's met our needs for over a year.  We've rejoiced in it, recovered in it, cried, laughed -- a lot!, celebrated, meditated, sang, danced and danced and danced...

This, my friends, for right now anyway... is my home.

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