We bought our house five years ago next month. We loved it instantly, even though it was covered in ancient avocado-green carpeting, even though the drywall in the kitchen was unfinished and darkened with age, even though there's not a straight floor or wall to be had. Our son was born in the living room. Our daughter touched his fingers for the first time just a few short hours later, upstairs in our bedroom.
We found out I was pregnant with Osiah when Isla was 15-months-old. We'd just graduated into I-can-conceive-of-doing-this-again when the double lines appeared. Soon after, while in the midst of all-day-sickness that felt like a three month hangover, we decided we needed to buy a house.
"I can not birth another baby in a rental. We need our own space."
And so we began the process of being rejected by banks and looking at houses online into the late-night hours of the evening.
We looked at everything we could find in our meager price range. We looked in the Hilltowns of Western MA, and immediately rejected anything in Greenfield.
"I will never live there," I said.
For Hilltowners like us, proud country-dwellers, the idea of moving to a town where people, you know, just hang around on the street was inconceivable.
But then, we looked at the last house on the list that we could afford. We hated it. To bury our sadness, we took ourselves out to an expensive dinner. As we chatted, Tim said, "You know, there was this house I drove by awhile ago. It was for sale by owner. We should drive by after dinner."
I sighed heavily as I followed his truck, my minivan zigging and zagging down a road I'd never before driven on. It was growing darker. We turned onto a side road. I saw a house. I prayed that this was the house for sale - it was - and begged the Universe to make it ours.
We looked at it the next day. Our offer was accepted by the end of the week.
Our family and friends are scattered all over the country, and for all of the five years we've lived here we've toyed with the idea of moving closer to some of our important people; there are so many lovely places in this country, so many significant relationships. We love our house, and quickly grew to love our town, and yet we crave physical closeness with our people.
But something changed recently. My husband built a bar in the town next to ours, a town that feels more like an extension of Greenfield than a separate place. He put an incredible amount of himself into the space - I can feel him there when I walk in - and something about it has made me feel so solidly grounded in this place that the thought of ever leaving for real feels almost impossible to consider.
We went to the Fox for donuts, coffee, cider, and a bread board this morning. My children ate smoked duck, fennel salami, and brie. They gently fought over the last bite of duck. They ran up and down the ramp outside. Tim and I sat inside and flirted (with each other.) I talked with a gal who's about to become a good friend about really real things. I drank too much espresso. I felt, with a grin, how that feels.
The whole scene was ours. We were living it and it was living us - we make it and it makes us.
Suddenly, we're really, really here. It's grounding, this feeling of belonging.
When we put our souls into the things we do, things change. They change in the best, truest way you can imagine. When we put it all in, it all comes back.
Here we are.
For real, for now, and maybe - just maybe - for good.