Come to think on it, that blog title sounds like it should be some sort of “Secret Garden” fanfic piece, but no, it’s just yours truly blowing the dust off the blogosphere and settling in for a bit.
A long bit, I hope. I have missed writing here.
We are ten days out from our move-aversary. A year from the date that we pulled away from our second house in the sunrise of a lovely Tennessee Spring day. One 12-passenger van stuffed to the gills with children and miscellany, a row boat strapped to the top, and pulling a Uhaul trailer stuffed with mattresses and lamps for our bivouac in the big empty new house until the movers would follow with our main furniture. One Audi wagon stuffed with our duffles and spare things, and houseplants. I was determined we needed to bring those ourselves. Just like I was determined not to leave behind our outdoor statue of the Blessed Mother, and the rocks we had brought home from our family vacation to Haus Meister’s late grandparents’ house on Burt Lake, Michigan, the previous summer. Yes, I insisted on rocks. They had been brought back from the kids’ new favorite vacation spot and we still had talked about where we had found them. Little gestures of the familiar.
Rascal and I were in charge of the Audi. We listened to “Ember Falls” on Audible. We passed through Knoxville and I spoke to him of his late great-grandparents’ house. There would have been daffodils in the woods around their home by this time. The first time I visited Haus Meister’s grandparents’ house, before we were even engaged, I loved it. I loved the welcoming house, the congenial hosts, the large yard with gently rolling slope down to a babbling creek, and the woods in the back. I always thought it would have been ideal for children to grow up in that place.
Our move was a leap of faith. We were going to a city with some familiarity only to Haus Meister, who had visited it on business for some time now. Only he had seen our house in person. We had each seen it online, and I had dismissed it at first. The house looked too large, too pretentious. I had been looking for a modest Cape Cod. But then I looked past the original photo of the house’s exterior, and fell in love. I texted Haus Meister who was at work at the time and said, in effect, “even if this is an impossibility, I have to see what this stairwell looks like.” It was an open stairwell to a second floor gallery open to the living spaces below. Honestly, I envisioned my children running around it just like Sr. Mary Benedict imagined her school children running in Mr. Bogartus’ building (“Bells of St. Mary’s.” You should see it some time).
The stairwell sold me.
That gray January day he navigated a route now familiar and investigated the house for me. Just a look at the land and the house sold him. He knew it would be a home place, like his grandparents’ had been for his family. We still looked around, but as we did, every potential house was snapped up in the kind of market we would have loved at the time we were trying to sell the Old Haus (family annals 2011-2015).
(Incidentally, I did drive past the Old Haus once before the move. I had to say goodbye. They had my curtains still hanging in the kitchen window.)
So while we tried to make the Tennessee house look like something that hadn’t been toddler-scarred for the past six years, we were in contact with lovely realtor who worked hard to find us a spot. And God closed doors and opened windows until it came down to the moment that it would be this house.
Sometimes I still can’t believe it.
I just know I drove up to it that afternoon in March and said aloud, “Oh good, it looks cosier than the pictures!”
It was Posey’s 5th birthday and for months after she would brag, “I got the Big Blue House on my birthday.” We would occasionally remind her that she wouldn’t get that big a gift next year (although she has a house-sized gift list, and all pink.) I fretted that we didn’t have a cake. I spent no little time wondering how to acquire a cake for her. In the end, we found our realtor had been to Sams and left some food in the home for us. She included a massive tray of cookies that became Posey’s birthday treat, but in the euphoria of seeing her new home she didn’t mind at all.
For two weeks, the island pictured above was our kitchen table, precisely because our tables were being packed in Tennessee. Even now, we gravitate toward the island at mealtimes. At one point, the island was the only thing that worked perfectly in that kitchen–and even then, we had to replace the garbage disposal in that sink now that I recall.) We were soon to replace every major appliance. The wall oven we have eeked along on a wing, prayer, and online manual. It is dark in the areas behind because the kitchen had the only working lights in the house. Everywhere else there were burned-out bulbs from a house too long empty. The lamps we had brought went into the living room and bedrooms. Even now, this past winter has definitely taught us which parts of the house needs the most hygge.
It’s still hard to put into words all the emotions of moving day. Perhaps that is why it has taken me over eleven months to attempt to try. For the record, we feel entirely at home here, and love our new home. And do you know? The moment we walked through the front doors (which may be replaced this year with something that insulates), the kids rushed up the stairs and began to run around the gallery, just as I imagined they would.
And they still do.