The day I walked into Maybrook for the showing I knew it was the one. Not the house I’d always wanted, but the one I needed at that moment. The one that would get me to my son the fastest. The one that would occupy my mind and my time. The one that I could afford on my own. I sat at the top of the stairs to feel the house to be sure. It was a confusing time, my mind was jumbled, and I was making a choice that would change my family forever. That spot at the top of the stairs seemed to be the energetic anchor of the house. I could feel it.
I vividly remember moving day, after all the commotion of movers and people, I sat. Alone. At the top of the stairs. Broken. Physically exhausted. Emotionally spent. This was day one. The hardest day of my life.
This is what I wanted and yet, I was crushed. Each day I would go to work and when I got home, I would sit at the top of the stairs and cry. Uncontrollable, ugly crying. I’ve never been a crier so this level of crying was not okay!
At some point when I was a kid, I decided no one could make me cry. I learned I could control it. So I’d never experienced that depth of sadness or allowed that level of emotion to take over. It was terrifying. I think I cried for seven straight days.
I decided this was a transition house. I would only be here for 2 years, while my son finished high school and moved between my house and our family home which was just a few miles away. I need not get attached to it. Oddly, I described it as my transition house when I talked about it.
When the housing market crashed in 2008, the neighborhood was hit hard by foreclosures and my notion of a two year stay disappeared quickly. Okay, okay, I’ll stay 2 more years but that’s it.
In the meantime, I was putting myself back together, keeping my focus on my family healing and learning how to newly be together apart. And I was returning to the person I was born to be. At almost 40, it was the first house I’d bought on my own and the first time I’d lived alone for more than 6 months.
I could move the furniture when I wanted. I could paint a wall orange or a room red. I could rearrange the dishes in the cabinets. I could fold the towels inconsistently. I could stack the dishwasher inefficiently. I didn’t have to make the bed. No one to please but me. God, I was lonely. And…I was, for the first time in my life, learning how to live with myself, how to find comfort in my own company, how to just…BE.
Years passed, and the relationship I thought would have to be a secret forever became too big to hold down. She moved in one drawer at a time. And together, we built a life together, with our families and children, that neither of us imagined could ever be possible. Seriously, our being together, out in the world, was never.going.to.happen.
Today almost to the day, nine years after that first move-in day, I walked out of Maybrook for the last time with my soon-to-be wife. As I thanked the house for holding my amazing journey, I realized how many transitions had happened here. Not just mine.
Despite my efforts to stay disconnected from it, the transition house became, “The House That Built Me.”
As fate would have it, the buyer of the house is recently separated and trying to rebuild a new life for his little girl, who’s just a bit younger than my son when I moved there. Perfect.
So today the tears flowed again as I sat in that go-to spot at the top of the stairs. I left it better than I found it and it left me better than I was when I arrived.