We’ve been in our house for just over 4 years now.
As many times as I drive in and out of the drive way: today it hit me. How amazing this little slice is. I didn’t grow up in a neighborhood, I wasn’t part of a rat-pack of friends from my backyard, I couldn’t ride my bike to school, or walk to my library. We didn’t camp when I was a little girl, I lived a very different (often dual) life than my children are experiencing. And the popup in our driveway with the blooming window boxes and the basketball hoop with a neighborhood playground only a block away … It just makes me thankful for this life. The one I almost missed. The one I sometimes wish away. Today isn’t one of those days.
We’ve had some turnover in our neighborhood recently and as exciting as possibility is, I find myself being completely rooted to this house. A year ago I would have told you that once our renovations were finally done I would want to move. Collect the equity and run away.
I don’t know where I’m always going but I haven’t wanted to stop. Until now.
Summer is almost here and we’re preparing for an extended trip, which is why we bought a pop-up camper a few weeks ago. We ripped out carpet and cleaned it up and we’re shaving minutes off the set-up every time we practice. We spent our first nights in the camper this past weekend – the first night was chilly and we didn’t have enough blankets so we all huddled in together and fought off bug bites and woke to a downpour storm. We stayed dry! And we all woke up smiling, giddy almost.
I remember going to Shipshewana with my parents and buying my first tent with my babysitting money when I was 11 or 12. We lived in a subdivision where everyone’s backyards pooled into one big, uninterrupted green space; divided only by landscaping rocks and invisible lines etched out with mowers and ownership. I set up my green tent in the backyard and slept outside every night I was allowed to that summer. I spent days laying under the green tarp listening to the birds, writing in my journal, pretending I was in the middle of a great big field with mountain views and rushing water nearby. Only when I poked my head out from my miniature universe did I realize I was in the middle of a suburban sprawl, no mature trees as far as the eye could see; in the middle of empty lots and chemically induced grassy lawns.
When I was seventeen I camped on the beach with Aaron. I wrote a note to my parents saying I’d be back in the morning (pro-tip: not recommended) and we hiked out to the beach, set up a tent and watched the stars. It was that innocent, actually, and it was perfect. We wrote in each-others journals that night, instead of our own, as if we were writing a memory for the other person. That no matter what came of us, we’d always have this. A night underneath the stars, a night with the waves and the moon. I woke up next to Aaron for the first time on that rebellious little adventure and thats when I knew, I wanted to do this forever. Soon after waking up my parents found our tent on the beach and sternly told me to … ehum … come home. (True story.)
Waking up in our popup to the sound of rain pelting our vinyl roof with bleary eyed genetic clones of each of us staring up from underneath blankets, huddled in with their stuffed animals, I realized that this is my forever.
I love houses and I hope I always will. But I love sleeping underneath the stars more. I love watching the water, and feeling so small it’s actually painful in the grand scheme of things. I love running on the shore and spending time counting grains of sand. I love living in close quarters with the people I can’t get enough of. Picking roadside flowers and sipping muddy coffee under the awning while the dust dances at my feet in a furry with the rain.
It’s that innocent, actually, and it’s perfect.