My dad stopped by for a visit on his way home from work yesterday. It was a typical evening at our house: everyone gathered around the dining room table, Brees coloring a picture, Belle doing her homework, supper simmering on the stove, a newspaper spread out and talk of local politics floating through the air.
"Can you believe that it's been 4 years ago today since we moved y'all into this house?" my dad asked us.
Truthfully, neither Shawn nor I remembered our move in anniversary. We've been so consumed with the baby's impending arrival that we haven't thought about much else. But, my dad's revelation got us thinking and before long we were looking at old photos and reminiscing about that summer 4 years ago: the summer we spent making our dream house into a home.
I've wanted this house, the house we now own and have made our own, since I was a little girl. There was just something about it that I loved: it reminded me of a little dollhouse. I loved how big and open the yard was, I loved that it was two stories (two story homes are not common in this area due to the climate, it isn't considered wise to attempt to cool off a second story in Louisiana summers). I never in a million years would have thought that someday it would actually be mine. Moving back to the sleepy little town where I grew up wasn't even part of my plan much less owning a home here.
But. the stars aligned and fate takes over and through a series of events, we found ourselves buying my dream home, now OUR dream home, on a warm summer day in June 2009. Sometimes, the timing of certain events in your life is just so perfect that you are left with no other choice than to take a leap of faith and accept it as reality. Buying our house was one of those times.
The home was previously owned by an older couple who kept it in pristine condition. Though Shawn was initially turned off by the wall to wall 80's decor (pink shag carpet, wallpaper in every room, stained glass chandeliers and popcorn textured ceilings), I convinced him that these elements were all cosmetic and could easily be fixed. And so, the day after we signed that gigantic stack of legal papers binding us to our house, we set to work making it our own. My mother and I had watched enough HGTV to kid ourselves into thinking that we were home renovation experts. Truthfully, we had NO idea what we were doing and spent a great deal of time laughing at ourselves and our ability to underestimate every single project we took on. But, we did it. Room by room, project by project, with the help of family and friends, we transformed our house into a home.
We ripped out carpet, tore down wallpaper, changed out light fixtures and appliances. We replaced windows and doors, light switch plates and window dressings. For three long months that summer, we worked every chance we had. It was a labor of love, all of us coming together, creating a space that we would all soon enjoy as a family. I didn't know it at the time, but it was the last summer in which my parents would call each other husband and wife. They separated and then divorced that fall, finally admitting to all of us that they had been unhappy for a very long time. The work they did on this house, the projects they helped us with: it was like their final joint effort for us, their last gift as a united front. They waited until were all moved in to break the news, closing a chapter as we began a new one. It was a bittersweet moment for all of us, a time I will never forget. But, as we sat around the table last night, recounting stories about broken pipes and leaky faucets, my heart felt full in knowing that at least we had that time together before we all said goodbye to what our family once was. We had that summer, that journey, to help us remember what is most important: family. Divorce or not, we all came together and created something amazing. No one can ever take that away from us.