a look back
The first time we pulled up to the little yellow house, there was a tall, scraggly bush blocking the front window. The large galley kitchen hadn’t been renovated in decades. The backyard contained more dirt and twigs than grass. You’re probably wondering why in the world my husband and I were so excited about this house.
Standing in the living room on that weekday afternoon, I saw past all the cosmetic problems. The house had a whimsy that called to me. I saw gleaming, heart-of-pine floors; original metal doorknobs; and a front and back yard that would be ours to landscape as we pleased. But the biggest seller (sorry, little yellow house) was the neighborhood. Every town has the “it” neighborhoods; the ones that send out wily, siren calls, attracting locals and out-of-towners alike. Watts Hillandale is an “it” neighborhood. If the landlord approved our lease, we would live within walking distance of multiple coffee shops, restaurants, even grocery stores.
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The email came one morning while we were sitting in our tiny apartment balcony. “WE GOT THE HOUSE!” I yelled triumphantly. No more neighbors pounding above our heads. No more concrete jungle right outside our living room window. Even though we were trading the perks of new construction—things like walk-in closets, high ceilings, and a modern kitchen—for a house built in the 1940’s, my husband and I were ecstatic.
We moved in and immediately started putting down roots. That little yellow house on Sprunt Avenue holds some of my sweetest—and most painful—memories.
I remember throwing a huge house warming party. It was September and everyone was wearing shorts and sandals. The kitchen counter was loaded with food—crispy mac’n cheese, pulled pork saturated in BBQ sauce, chilled bottles of white wine. It was only a rental, but I loved how excited our friends were for us.
I remember sitting on the floor of the shower, arms wrapped around my legs, hot water pounding steadily on my head. I was sobbing. We had just begun our third year of infertility and I wanted a baby so badly. My heart felt raw. When I finally got out of the shower, I flopped down on the bed, wet hair scattering over dry covers and head pounding with a ferocious headache.
I remember agonizing over paint swatches, holding first one, than another up to the kitchen cabinets. I spent a summer sanding, painting, and hanging cabinet doors. By the time autumn rolled in, our kitchen sported dark wood floors, freshly painted cabinets, new hardware, and mossy green walls. It felt like a brand new space.
I remember a year later, I was home alone and holding a positive pregnancy test in one hand. Time stood still that evening. When my husband pulled in front of the house a few hours later, I ran down the sidewalk in my bare feet, waving the chunky plastic stick in the air. His eyes widened in disbelief when he realized what I was holding. “Really?” he asked, not daring to believe that the unattainable had finally happened.
I remember holding our tiny baby boy in the front yard. Lukas was four days old and I was exhausted in a way I’ve never been before in my entire life—but dang it, I was so happy. It was May and I was in short sleeves and sandals. He was dressed in a white onesie, a muslin blanket wrapped snugly around his tiny hands and feet. My sister was taking newborn photos.
* * *
Fast-forward seven months.
We decide to pursue a crazy adventure. My husband is taking a travel nursing job in Fairbanks, Alaska. It means giving up the little yellow house, putting our belongings temporarily into storage, and moving farther west than either of us has ever been in our lives. A few days before Drew signs on the dotted line, we’re steamrolled with a huge surprise: a positive pregnancy test. If life was a train ride, we just went from zero to sixty in the span of a few days.
I dread leaving our little yellow house behind. But as we approach our final few weeks, the flu hits with a vengeance. Drew and Lukas are sick for an appropriate number of days: about three days’ worth of achy bones, fevers, and general yuckiness. But for me, the flu descends in all its terribly glory. This includes the worst cough I’ve ever experienced in my life—I feel like throwing up every single time. I’m sick for almost ten days and packing falls to the wayside.
The last few days of our lease, I’m finally healthy enough to sweep floors and pack up the final, random assortment of objects left in the house. This is our fourth move and the absolute worst. All the nostalgia I felt about leaving the little yellow house is (mostly) swept away in the desire to just be done. It has turned into the move from hell.
But as I sit in the car, waiting for Drew to lock up, I study the outside of the little yellow house for the last time. Our three years here have been crazy, but the good kind of crazy. And true to form, the house is sending us off with another dose of crazy: a wild Alaskan adventure and a new baby. If I had known then what I know now…well, I’d do it all over again. And the house knows this. I swear I see it wink as we pull away from the curb.