We moved back into the house the day before Thanksgiving.
The weather was grey and cold. Francis was sick with bronchitis, a little shaky. Everything felt strange.
It didn’t feel like our home yet. Boxes filled the dining room, all the way to the ceiling. I kept thinking of the kids who robbed our house, how they sneaked from room to room, grabbing my few remaining belongings.
It felt a little like that at first, like we were trespassers in our own home, which had belonged to contractors, roofers, floor guys, plumbers and electricians for the past four months.
But on Thanksgiving Day, friends came over and we roasted a bushel of oysters. My entire yard was a mountain of dirt covered with a blue tarp that the kids kept sliding down, caking their pants with mud, but I didn’t care.
We needed more chairs — and I was able to go get more chairs. That’s when my brain clicked and I went into happy land.
I was home.
If I wanted something, I could go get it.
I didn’t have to ask anyone anymore, for everything. Like at the hotel — can I have a towel? Can I have a new pillow? Can I have a refrigerator that works?
And I didn’t have to go buy something that I already owned because it was ruined or missing, which I’ve done a lot of and which makes me crazy.
And I didn’t have to ask the contractor to fix it and ask him when he could fix it and then tell him again to fix it.*
I could just go get it. Because I was home.
Which to me is freedom.
I think of the people I have interviewed over the years, who don’t have their own homes or their own money. To always be at a disadvantage, to always be asking, to be powerless, it affects every aspect of your life. It throws everything into chaos. I think of how hard this has been for me, for four months, when for others, it can last a lifetime. And how impossible that must be.
I know how lucky I am: to have control over my house, and because of that, myself.
I think I was happier on Thanksgiving than I was on my wedding day.
I was blissed out of my mind.
We ate oysters outside in the sunshine. We drank and ate and talked and laughed. The kids ran inside and outside, happy to be home, in their element, discovering their old toys like it was Christmas.
I’m sort of coming back down to earth, but I’m still pretty up there. Drifting around in the stratosphere. Putting away dishes and bowls and pots and pans and making it a home again. Tired, exhausted, but so happy to be home, I feel like I might levitate.
*Note: I love my contractor. I wrote about how much I love him for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.