My husband wants to leave.
Before you start to hate him, please know that he wants to take me and the kids and even the dog with him. But I am still beside myself. The heartache lies not in who he wants to leave, but where he wants to leave. This brings me to our house, an address I swear is swoon worthy – think “Main Street, USA” .
If I am honest about it, and I hate to be, he has wanted to move before we even really settled here, before the kids started school, or were born, and even before he became my husband. But it is killing me. I don’t know why exactly it makes me feel like such a failure, but I think deep down I wanted it to be enough that I was here, that this was ours…the building, yes, but the lifetime more so. Before I met him, I felt like everything was temporary, that it was all a little fleeting – people don’t stay and love extinguishes itself, eventually, every time. But then I bought into it, that you could really build a life with someone, in one spot, and stay happy there.
All of our missteps and the different phases of our life together have a patina to it and the best faux finish couldn’t replicate the lessons we’ve learned. Maybe I am so hopelessly naïve, but I felt for so long that I could soothe his unhappiness with where we didn’t live by being a better draw, which seems so foolish now that I’m surprisingly stung by my embarrassment. I thought we would grow old here, lamenting the cost of braces, celebrating eighth grade dances, and driver’s licenses, college admissions and the eventual homecomings of both of our girls’ right from our front porch. I wonder if this is what breaks people, that one person holds an idea so close for so long that letting go of it is a loss that nearly kills you, but I suppose the loss of a dream is unlike any other. Things break, plans fail, tastes change and we evolve. Maybe what I fear the most – the uprooting and the upheaval will ultimately be the best thing for him, for us, even. I am not sure which breaks my heart more, my silent plea to him to not make us leave or his to not make us stay.
I remember moving into our new house, packing up Husband’s things from his parent’s house, and feeling so heavy. The ritual of it all struck me not just with permanence, but as a stark contrast to the departure from my living situation. For me, there was no send off, no father putting his arm around a tearful mom waving me off, no sibling standing by to watch me go. When Husband left, the sun was setting behind the U-haul as his family gathered together in a hopeful, bittersweet goodbye, united. The day before, I had unceremoniously emptied out my storage unit, which had dutifully yet reluctantly held everything I had owned, shuttled over to it after multiple moves and gracious stays which had provided conditional refuge for me.
It has only been a few days since we had the actual talk, the one where he said the thought of moving has never really left him, that he felt a pull to be closer to work, closer to the beach, closer to more of our friends, and all the places we left behind 12 years ago. (How can 12 years have possibly passed by?!?!). I just don’t understand why it makes me so terrified, so angry and above all so incredibly sad to think of leaving this house. I can rationalize it by using the prime argument – financial security. Here in our current county housing costs are significantly lower, we have a very manageable mortgage and a short time left to pay off the house entirely. Even in a modest, older, smaller house in the desired county we would be at the very least doubling our mortgage, but more likely tripling it. With my current occupation being “stay at home mom”, there is room for concern. This is only one part of the equation.
I haven’t really had a solid home base since I was in first grade. This sounds incredibly sad and dramatic but it’s my truth, and if I push aside my hesitancy about possibly upsetting my parents, I can say that out loud. Until I moved into this house in 2004, I hadn’t felt at home since I was in first grade. So, there is a sense of loss not just for me of this moment, but for all the “me’s” I used to be. This house was a place where I began to really come in to my own, taking walks around the neighborhood with Poe singing “Angry Johnny” in my discman (remember holding it flat with both hands like an altar boy, so the CD wouldn’t skip?). I feel for the girl I was the first Halloween we lived here – far too enthusiastically handing out fistfuls of candy by myself, or later as our girls were babies and they reluctantly thrust warm, sticky pieces from their chubby hands at teenagers who rang the bell. I think of how last year was the first year I took them trick or treating in our neighborhood – how great it was not to drive somewhere and be swarmed – and I’m instantly ashamed because I should have been doing it all along. There is something that is so desperate about having an experience through the lens of worry that it could very well be the last time. Don’t even get me started thinking about Thanksgiving (The time he made a Turducken! The year we brought Little Sister home from the hospital and he deep fried a turkey in the rain under a pop up tent! The time I made a Martha Stewart Turkey wrapped in a butter and wine soaked cheesecloth!).
Because we have had ample practice at communicating and compromising in the almost 17 years we have been together, the resolution was to table the discussion for one year. To give us a year of having both kids in school for six hours a day, five days a week. This might make me sound like a terrible mother – but I think any stay at home parent (other than our homeschool friends) keep their eyes on that marker – the countdown to Kindergarten…once the baby of the family goes to kindergarten (and in our case that is “Little Sister”). That will be the time to start working on that advanced degree, or that promotion you’ve been hesitant to pursue. Or maybe you will take up painting, or playing the guitar, or writing full time. We seem to compartmentalize that time in our lives – that dangling, bejeweled carrot; it is just beyond our reach… Where does our skinniest self wait for us? She is right around that corner. The same room where we place whoever we know we could be if only we had the time – the light hearted, but soul food producing home cook, the enviable scrap booker, the twelve years in the making college graduate, the doctor, the astronaut, the version of us with the good hair. She taunts us and she haunts us, but worse for untold millions, sometimes someone changes the rules right before we catch up to her.
Which leads me to why I am writing this blog in the first place (is it poor manners to introduce myself at this point in the story?). If we were meeting face to face I would be my socially awkward self and wave aggressively before saying Hi. I don’t mean this is in a demure way, where cool girls say they are awkward and yet every time you see them they look polished and completely at ease, I mean this in the literal sense of having an awkward wave – think flagging down someone in an emergency situation, apply that to any arena and that is my actual signal of greeting. I am taking a year to see if I can turn my insecurity, my restlessness over possibly moving one day and my instinct that I would feel better and maybe even help someone into something by writing it all down and blogging for a year. Because life, although it has unending twists and turns, is inherently beautiful and the posse I roll with is funny and adorable and to go full Cameron Crowe on you, “It’s all happening”. Should we stay? Should we go? Should I have better taste in music? Will next Halloween in our neighborhood have me saying peace out? I don’t know, maybe you do and I’d love it if you’d follow my journey as it unfolds and even share your story with me. At this point, you would offer me your hand to shake and I would move in for a hug even though I don’t even know you like that, and your hand would intersect my sternum, but I’d still throw my arms around you because that is how I am and it would keep me from frantically waving goodbye.