(Am I the only one having trouble with photos on Blogger?)
Five nights ago, I drove the babysitter home. She lives just a few houses down from where we used to live, back when we lived down a lane and didn't vacuum our kitchen.
It's been almost three months since we moved. I've driven past a handful of times, but mostly I just don't. It's usually not necessary and even though I always believe I'd handle it just fine, who wants to tempt fate? My emotions have blind-sided me before. It happens.
Five nights back, I didn't have a choice. No big deal. I drove down the dark road and I knew it was coming and I felt myself getting a little chattery about it. My poor, sweet babysitter played along, asking me "Do you miss it?"
No, I don't really miss it. I really don't. It's weird. I mean, I miss some things about it, about the house, but no, I don't really miss it.
(My answer went something like that.)
I dropped her off, turned myself around, and headed back down the road. Only that time, I was alone. And that time, I slowed down just a little. I pulled the shoe-box down from its high shelf and I unfolded the old letters, from a long-ago love. I pushed the bruise a little, knowing all the while it was a bad idea.
The porch was all strung with Christmas lights, there was a wreath on the door. It looked so snowy and lovely and I had to wonder, why didn't we ever take the time to string some lights?
Here's why: We always thought we'd just do it next year.
Out of no where, a big lump formed and I pushed it down, down, down, only it pushed back a little and my eyes got glassy-feeling and I cried a little. It confused me.
Didn't I just tell her that I didn't miss it? Do I somehow not know the truth about my own self? Am I playing games with my heart? Overcompensating?
I drove home sad about those strung up lights. I felt the weight hovering over my rental-house bed.
And then, I knew. It's not the house that I miss. It was never, ever about the house. The house happened to be beautiful. It helped us live well. It was comfortable and warm. There was a garbage disposal. It was perfectly me and very well lit. I think about it in that wistful way. Sometimes at night I close my eyes and try to imagine myself walking across the plank floor, looking long out the window at all of the quiet around me. I'm quite fond of the place. I always will be.
What makes me sad isn't the house, it's who I was in the house. Actually, it's who I wasn't in the house (at least in the beginning.)
Back at that house, I was a girl who never felt shaky or unsure about my future. I knew we'd be there almost forever. We would talk about turning the toy room into another living room in ten years or so, once the toys had lost their shine. We daydreamed our future, and it the future happened right there. Of course it did.
Back under that roof, I didn't know what I didn't know. My heart didn't twist up like it does now. I was oblivious about some things and, I gotta say, oblivion can be a cozy companion. It can be free and easy, so easy that you say to yourself, "It's fine. We'll just string the lights next year."
Right now, tonight, there are uncertainties about our future. We should know exactly what comes next, but we don't. We're a little bit in limbo, and limbo's not so cozy. He's kind of a punk.
But here's something I do know. I know that we'll be somewhere. Can't that be comfort enough? We'll not be left for lost. We won't be forgotten or homeless. I'm thankful for that knowing. I took that for granted in all of my la-la-landing.
There will always be a plan for us. It might change and change again, but we'll still be us and God will still be the cozy company we need most.