I’m moving. Tomorrow. Out of the little house I’ve called home for almost two years. We’ve been cleaning, sorting, boxing stuff up and moving it to various locations for a week, but it’s finally starting to hit me. It’s ending. And that makes me very sad.
Bethany found the house while Joy and I were in Oxford. She fell in love with the deep red living room and the big picture windows and the hardwood floors and the quaintness of it all. She all but begged us to agree to rent the house. And she did all the annoying deposit work and paperwork while we were gone.
We moved in the middle of August ’04. Couches and tables and bookshelves and pictures and a cheerful checked curtain for the kitchen window. A bathroom shelf that took forever to put up, and a little candelabra for our walled-in fireplace. The love spoon from Wales in the hallway, which Jeremiah continually knocked down…Bethany loved to make fun of him for it! On my first night in town, Jeremiah (bless him) was trying to hook up our TV (with surge protectors and converters) and blew a fuse – putting out the electricity in half of the house for the next 24 hours. Jason, the landlord, had to come show us where the fuse box was the next day. That’s still one of my favorite Cottage stories.
We have lived and laughed and loved in this house. Movie nights with viewings of Pirates of the Caribbean and You’ve Got Mail, Finding Neverland and The Emperor’s New Groove over and over. Lingerie showers for Charity and Kayla; birthday parties with cake and cobbler and friends. Cocktail-less cocktail parties, with chocolate fondue and cheese cubes and fruit, sparkling cider and queso and little black dresses and reading poetry aloud. We even had one last summer with no living room furniture…no one noticed we didn’t have couches until halfway through!
The cobalt-blue kitchen isn’t large, but it’s the heart of the house in lots of ways. Chocolate chip cookies, banana bread (no nuts), various chicken dishes and tons of fast-food takeout (we are college girls)…orange juice (Jeremiah’s favorite) and hot tea and hot cocoa and always a supply of chocolate stashed somewhere. So many deep and silly conversations…hugs…flicking water onto Jeremiah from the faucet while washing dishes…dancing whether we had music playing or not…collecting more and more and more coffee mugs, which we use mostly for tea.
This house gave me a place to grow after Oxford. I stretched my wings and was able to stand taller…as more of an adult than I’d ever been. I dealt with the phone company all by myself; I rebuffed annoying telemarketers and left the porch light on for Bethany at nights, and killed spiders and even wasps on occasion…all the things my dad had always done. We dealt with the frustration of changing landlords (and arguing with them both at various times). We grieved, when Cheryl died and Randen died and Joy’s grandfather died, and we prayed and worried and wondered, when Bethany’s sister ran away and when Joy moved out and when my love life was on the fritz (off and on for a LONG time). And even while I was emotionally strained for a whole year, this house gave my love for Jeremiah a place to grow. We’ve snuggled on the couch and danced in the living room and stood on the front sidewalk looking up at the stars and kissed good-night on the front porch. And always we have talked – about life and love and our families and school and God and friends and who we want to be. Sometimes I think the house belongs to him as much as to Bethany and me.
Bethany took most of her stuff home yesterday, in a bright yellow Penske rental truck (which took only two hours to load…thanks to Mark and Stephen!), and then Stephen and I swept the floors and mopped the laundry room and ran errands, and savored Cajun Cones in the kitchen and talked. Then I watched a movie in our half-empty living room. And I cried because big changes are coming.
She’ll be back today and we’ll spend one last night in the house together. Maybe we’ll watch one of our favorite movies…I haven’t unhooked the borrowed TV yet. Tomorrow, she’ll load up her car and head home for good, and my friend Calvin will come with his trailer and help me get the rest of my stuff out. And we’ll say goodbye on the front porch…and lock the door and walk away for the last time.
Someone new will rent The Cottage in the fall. And I hope they love it even half as much as we have. Because this is the kind of house that loves you back. Its walls have submitted to being hung with dried roses and opera posters and tons of photographs, and bulletin boards and a little painting from Spain. Its hardwood floors have felt cool on our bare feet as we’ve walked or run through its spacious rooms, and its windows have let in the morning light and sunsets and let us keep an eye on the street. It gave us space to live, to love and be loved, to grow up and learn a little more about being adults, being Christians, being people. And I hope it goes on and loves whoever lives in it next.
Places do have personality. Ask me about any of the places I love and I’ll tell you about them as if they were people. This little house has been a good friend. I am sorry to leave it – but I know that part of it will always be with me.
So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, goodbye…