We have 30 days to pack up our toys, furniture, clothes, knickknacks, books, and eat all of the food in the house. We have 30 days to clean it up, caulk the broken toilet paper holder, put toothpaste in the nail holes behind our picture frames, and scrub the aggressive shoe scuffs off the back of our front door. 30 days to decide which toys belong at Nana’s house, which ones deserve new homes, and which ones are cared for and sentimental enough to move with us to our new house. We have 30 days to get rid of our ugly green couch, the old dresser that hides in the coat closet because it’s too heavy to load up alone, and the attachment I have to walking up our stairs every morning talking about dreams and deciding what’s for breakfast.
We have 30 days left here, and I’m clinging for dear life to the past 12 months. To the kitchen floor where I used to like to cry and cope with the roughness until it became our hang out spot while we wait for the oven timer, to my special chair in the corner where I started meditating again. To the bathtub where I watched and refereed the splish splashy bubble baths with a cup of tea in hand, and in which I only just a week ago took my first bath here. I had never seen my bathroom from that point of view. I’m hung up on the back of that door, where my bathrobe, hers, and his all hang side by side.
I’m clinging to my living room, where I work, where we play, where we eat, where we chill, where we snuggle. I’m clinging to 10 pm when I get to come back up and clean it after a long day of unfiltered play. Where I separate the playdough colors, put the books away, scrub the strawberry residue off the table, and fix the couch up with my obnoxiously uncountable number of throw pillows just so. Where I sweep and mop silently, reorganize the play food in the kitchen set, and arrange the magnet letters on the fridge in alphabetical order or sometimes inappropriate acronyms (it makes me happy to see “DGAF” when I open the freezer for my second frozen pizza of the day).
I’m clinging to my bed, where, at one point, I wanted to stay forever but by the grace of God or whoever, was pulled up at 8 am sharp almost every single day by the words “Mama, I want oatmeal”. Where I lay to read and write and think. Where I’ve been engrossed in such negative thoughts and reactions and darkness, only to have my baby girl sit up, ripped from a nightmare to come save me from mine. Where we lay and talk about the big ugly yellow monster that bit her arm and scared her so, where she laughs and snuggles closer when I tell her that I always keep her safe. Where she displays the wisdom of a 10,000 year old soul and tells me “it’s not real, it’s okay. It was just in my head” and makes me realize that the big ugly yellow monster biting me isn’t real either.
I’m clinging to my nursery, that served as a storage unit for the first 3 months I lived here. All consumed by my perception of a shattered world, I hid in here. I left most of our boxes packed. Nothing hung on the walls. My house was my refuge in the big evil terrifying world. And then one day, I got fed up with my own bullshit and put two cribs together. I hung everything. I fixed it. I made it mine. Ours. I made it a place for them to read, hide out in circus tents, and pick out their clothes themselves (big mistake).
I’m clinging to the time my grandpa paid half my rent. The few times my mom did. And especially the time I paid every last bill on my list all by myself and still got to take the kids out for ice cream. I’m clinging hard to the corners of my house that I refused to even look in for a long time before I made it mine. We have now truly lived in every area of this house. We have danced around in the same area that we’ve dinner picnicked in the same area that we opened our Christmas presents in the same area where my dog used to sleep in the same area where the in-floor heating feels the warmest in the same area I unroll my yoga mat every morning in the same area my son first crawled.
The outside world has changed so much since I signed my name on the lease of this place. I have, too. The kids certainly have. But though the furniture and décor have been changed out and made better, moved around and shifted, this house stayed the same. The stairs have stayed littered with the clothes I can’t force my toddlers to keep wearing; the loft at the top of the stairs just covered in junk that I can’t seem to find a place for, like Halloween candy, late-Christmas gifts yet to be received, and the borrowed dishes I need to return to my mom’s house. The shower has stayed leaky and loud and I’m worried to take my wake up showers anywhere else now. The dishwasher’s remained the best lullaby for naptimes. The pantry door, still wonky and if I ever slide it open too hard or fast either out of hangry-ness or daily stress, it’s always bounced back to bonk the side of my head to remind me “chill out”.
I’m ready to leave the 38 stairs it takes to get from my garage to my kitchen, because groceries are a bitch. I’m ready to leave my loud neighbors across from my bedroom window who seem to only turn their porch light on at 11:30pm and invite guests from all over the world to their south side trap house. I’m ready to make somewhere brand new feel like home. I’m ready to throw a lot of stuff out and feel super fresh. But I couldn’t be ready without saying to my inanimate, unconscious house: thanks for taking care of me when I was so far down, thanks for keeping me safe when I was so deeply filled with fear, thanks for being home when I felt really lost, and thanks for holding us together for the past year, despite how many times it felt like everything was falling apart. Thanks for being the warm place to come back to. Where too many cupcakes have been made, so much lovin’ has happened, and so much peace has been found.