And then, only four years later, I found myself posting this:
we had always had a plan
so sure of what we wanted
to live life, together, out loud
be as free as commitment allowed
untethered to the things Everyone Else
used to measure their grand arrival
at the finish line of life
keep it small and live simply
so we could live Life large
travel, dance, laugh, sleep at night
without the stresses Everyone Else chose:
a lawn man, the corner lot
we planned life with bare feet
spontaneity, experiences, whimsy, free of cares
we were so sure back then
until something shifted, wishes got swapped
and we suddenly found ourselves dreaming
of a grown up life, settled
a home that was spacious enough
to welcome Just One More baby
(and a lawn man to cut
the grass on the corner lot)
we swapped one dream for another
found ourselves with a new life
new joys, different desires, wishes granted
but with it all sometimes comes
the subtle, quiet unease of wonder:
was this the life we intended
one we will look back on
with satisfaction of a life fulfilled
or a life exchanged for one
that is just like Everyone Else's?
That poem haunted me. Even now, as I reread it, I don't really remember writing it. It was one of those "writer's moments" where stuff just comes out of you and you don't even recognize it afterwards. But it was perfect. Somehow, I was able to put into words the unease I was feeling; the unease of which I wasn't even fully aware at the time. I just knew something was gnawing at me: I wasn't sure this is what I had really signed up for. Did we sell out? And why don't I feel fully realized, if I had, supposedly, everything I wanted?
Of course, it wasn't just about the size and cost of the house. I had some sort of discomfort with Suburbia. And yet, when the time came to move, I was probably most concerned with leaving the 39 chain restaurant options I had nearby. Because, I learned, that with Suburbia comes not only perfectly landscaped lawns, but also ease, availability, and the masses. The longing for a different day-to-day routine, however, won out--thanks to some gentle prodding from Hubby the Risk-Taker--and I gave up the corner Starbucks (multiple ones on multiple corners) for some eccentric local joints that have been discovered by trial and error and neighborly assurances.
We are having our first party in the new house today; I only picked the date because it was practical. I had no idea until just yesterday that it was the exact one year anniversary from our closing date. One year ago today, we left our lawyer's office with the key, bought a six pack of Heineken at the gas station, and toasted our new house as we took a million pictures of what we knew would be "The Before's." The months that followed were exhausting and exhilarating: we lived with my parents and then in our RV in the backyard as we completely remodeled the inside ourselves.
When we were finished, we had swapped 2300 square feet for 1600, a 2-car garage for a small room used for storage, and a "spa" bathroom for one with a counter that is so small I literally can not place more than one bottle on it without something falling into the sink. When I went grocery shopping the other day, I found myself standing in line behind an incredibly wealthy-looking and fit older couple buying mainly organic food and fancy wine, and standing in front of a homeless-looking man buying a 6-pack of Budweiser. Suburbia, it is not.
We ride our bikes to the beach, the boys shirtless and in flip flops, Hubby with skim boards attached to the back of his bike with a MacGyver-like contraption, and I with a backpack with the SPF and towels. When we need to clean the house, it takes less than half the time it used to. When we have to pay the bills, we have enough left over to afford the longed-for RV that used to be a dream and the house in Hawaii we have already rented for Summer 2016.
I do not miss the granite or even (gasp) the chandelier hanging in my former walk-in closet (although I definitely have to figure something out about the bathroom counter). Eight years ago, we took a chance on a dream we thought was ours. Fortunately, we were smart enough to listen to each other--and our instincts--and take an even bigger chance. It wasn't easy. I had many, many moments of doubt and even panic. But today, as we welcome our friends into our home, I'll know we did the right thing for our family, and I'll be celebrating another exchanging of dreams.
|One year ago today...
Happy One Year Anniversary to our Hale Ma 'Alahi