We bought this house 14 years ago. I had landed a great job at CNN. We were squished in a tiny house and the tax man said we needed a bigger mortgage. This house is just down the street from my Parents. My Mom spotted the post going into the yard to hold the FOR SALE sign and called Tom. We had to wait two more days for the open house to see inside, but we put out a contract immediately. We knew we had found our spot.
It has a big lot, old growth trees and sidewalks for riding bikes. The first time I bought groceries, it was poring rain and I realized that I HAD A GARAGE. I never had to carry groceries in the rain, or scrape snow and ice off my car. I just had to press a button and waaaaaa - the portal opened to wonderland.
It has always felt so luxurious to have 4 spacious bedrooms and 3 full bathrooms, esp as my Daughter was 12 years old and our old house only had one full bathroom. I’ve often thought that moving here and giving her a designated bathroom saved us a lot of teenage girl misery.
Plus - Tom bought a drum set and he and our Son had fun shaking the house for years. That took care of a lot of the teenage boy aggression. Boy Howdie – my Son’s band practice was the most fun miserable experience as a Mom…. right there with school field trips.
When we first moved in, Mr. W put a birdhouse on a post under our bedroom window, so we mostly wake up to birdsong. Often, at night, hooting owls have rousted us. I remember my Daughter, grumpy with interrupted sleep, hollering “SHUT UP” out the window. Mr. W and I startled awake laughing. We've often had a woodpecker drilling on our gutters - that is a sound that gets your blood pumping first thing on a Saturday morning. I've loved falling asleep to the sound of rain falling.
This house has an abundance of windows.
Over the years there has been a lot of middle of the night shenigans here, starting with the very first night. I had a wicked hot flash. I got out of bed, wandered downstairs and opened the front door. It was so much cooler on the front porch. Then the door blew shut behind me and I had to ring the doorbell to get in. Everyone not me was pissed.
We all had our favorite places in this house. Tom loved the couch under the windows for his morning coffee. I loved it for my afternoon nap in the sun. We planted jasmine in pots on the deck (the only place deer couldn't eat our foliage) and the smell would drift across the living room when I was reading my book. We hung a hammock in the back yard between the tree and the treehouse, perfect for an afternoon snore. The basement was boyland - drum set, movie set, planning & prep center for the bi-yearly fatwa.
A few years after we moved in I quit working at CNN to finish raising our kids. I scraped all the icky old wallpaper off every surface, painted every wall, door, window and floorboard. It was a labor of love. I felt like I was painting laughter into my very walls. I dragged chandlers back from Venice and Istanbul - those babies are moving with me. We designed and installed a new kitchen ourselves. Whoo boy will I miss this kitchen. I’ve loved cooking for family and friends.
One of my favorite memories of my Sons high school years was baking cookies and leaving them to cool on the counter. I went looking for the big Tupperware container and my Son and his friends swept in from school. They ate every cookie in 90 seconds and disappeared outside. I came back upstairs and the counter was empty except for the crumbs. I couldn’t believe it. I should also mention the day my Daughter came home from 7th grade crying. She'd gotten her only D ever - in Home Economics. I laughed myself into hiccups. She went from teary to miffed to pissed at me in seconds and I still think its funny. Home Ec was the blight on her perfect school record. Hahahah!
Our kids grew up here – first days of school, learning to drive, first dates, college apps, my Daughter getting married. We celebrated birthdays, holidays, good report cards, family movie night, high school and college graduations, job promotions, engagements, my brother's twins yearly visits (we always cheered and clapped them into the house past the pirate flag) and any other thing we were happy about. We’ve had our family and friends over too many times to count. Weeknight dinner clean up routine = we used to blast "Boogie Shoes," the perfect 3 minute song, and try to get all the cleanup done in just one playing. That made for a lot of people zooming around the kitchen as fast as possible. We've had years of epic fatwa nonsense.
I worked hard on gardening. When I first started, the yard was full of buried trash - car parts, old shingles, rusty scissors. It took a long time to dig everything up, manage water runoff and figure out what grew under a deep shade canopy. I gave up when the deer ate my plants to the mud and took my most treasured hydrangeas and hostas to Miss Peg. I go to their house often to visit my plants.
We’d watch the birds on the feeder during breakfast and dinner. One evening we watched a bunny rabbit snore in the back yard. We’ve watched hawks eat rabbits, foxes eat squirrels and birds nest everywhere. I had two summers in a row when a mockingbird strafed me every time I went down the driveway to get the newspaper or mail.
We’ve been very happy here. Blessed with good fortune.
Tonight we are having our best friends over for pizza. Tomorrow I’ve having the family over for Mothers Day. Final small celebrations. Then we’ll have one last graduation party, for our Son, with all our family and friends over to celebrate everything happening at once - graduation, moving, housewarming. Then Evan will leave for his post college life in California. Mr. W is going with him to help him get settled.
I’ll supervise the packers, clean the empty house for my Daughter and Son in Law. I hope that they live and thrive here with the same joy we’ve had. I’ll grapple with the reality that although they will visit, our kids will never live in our new home. I won't live where the sounds of their laughter and childhood are with me all the time. We are post children, soon (ha!) to be elderly people. It’s Mr. W and I on our own now, in a new home, new state, new life. We are sliding past the middle age years, heading for decrepit.
I can’t imagine how our new life could be as great as the life we are leaving. But I tell myself the thing I used to say to my children: I carry you in my heart, always. This place, this life, this history is with me always.
I’m going to come back and see my Daughter being happy. I’ll visit my Son and revel in his successes. I'll still be able to take care of my Parents, Aunt and Uncle, but it worries me that I'll be a day away, not in their every day every moment life. I will miss that horribly.
I’d like to say that I’m facing the future with excitement. Mostly, I’m just trying to face the future without sniveling. Tom loves his new job. The new house is adorbs – and the neighborhood is friendly, walkable and lovely. I have to march out and meet the next phase of my life. If the past is an indicator of the future, I should be happy. Here’s hoping, because this is hard emotional terrain to navigate.
But right now, I’m having my last morning alone in the House of Happy, drinking my coffee, listening to the birds. Pretty soon I’ll get on with all the stuff I have to do to make the next hectic week of Son’s graduation with honors and PAR-TAY happen. I hope I feel this sense of peace and anticipation in my new life, because those feelings are hallmarks of my existence here.
My wish, leaving here, is that my Daughter and Son in Law have twice the time and happiness that I had here. . I hope my Son is happy in his adult life and work. I wish for a continuation of the joy
Casa Empresspatti is a fine and lovely place. Long may the New Regime reign.