Forty-two days. That’s how much time I have. Forty-two days to sort through the drawers. Through the closets. Through the attic, and the crawl space. Through the photo albums, and the file cabinet, and the basement. Six years in a house, almost eleven years in a marriage, and now I have forty-two days to figure out what stays, what goes, what’s his, what’s mine, and what, if anything, is left.
The good news is we sold the house. In a market called the “worst…since the Great Depression,” we got lucky. The house was only on the market for three weeks. The buyer is a local guy who likes the location. The inspection went well and there don’t seem to be any complications in the deal. The P&S gets signed this week. We got lucky. That’s what they tell me.
Somehow, I just can’t seem to celebrate.
Six years ago, when we bought this house (for considerably more than we just sold it for, I might add), Matt and I were still pretty fresh off our California high. We had decent jobs, we had a good down payment, we had lots of friends, and hopefully a baby was on the way. Life was pretty good, and here we were -- buying our second house; a great little Victorian Farmhouse with a front porch perfect for rocking chairs and rosebushes, a yard big enough for the two dogs, and a family neighborhood. The beach was less than a mile away. We took a boat to work every morning, and back again each evening. They served beer on the boat. We bought new furniture, and a high-end gas grill. House became home, and I became pregnant. Calder was born to this house. This house saw his nightly feedings, his first smiles, his first cold. It sheltered two terrified parents who had no idea what to do with a newborn. Calder had his first solid food in the blue-tiled kitchen, where I laughed until I cried at the look on his face when he tried the strained peas. Matt bathed him in the kitchen sink. He sat up, crawled, and said “dada” in front of the fire in the family room. His first steps were in the back yard. This is the house where he became the most amazing person I have ever met.
This is also the house where friends came. Summer afternoons, cold beers and burgers on the grill. Matt wrestling with the dogs while Calder and a neighbor baby played on a blanket nearby. On Christmas eve, the house was filled with family, old friends, and more than likely, new friends who, for various reasons, had no place else to celebrate. Calder’s first birthday party was in the backyard, and all of Matt’s family came; his parents, his sister, his two brothers, their spouses, and Calder’s ten cousins. The only photo of the entire family was taken on our front porch. Matt and I danced in the kitchen, ate dinners we’d cooked together by candlelight in the dining room, and shared coffee and the paper on the sun porch. We laughed.
I grew organic tomatoes and spinach here. Matt ripped out ancient overgrown yews and we planted japanese maples and red-twig dogwoods. Matt put up the bird feeder he’d given me for my birthday outside of the bay window so I could see it while I was feeding Calder. We found a robin’s nest in the cherry tree.
It was in this house that I first admitted to Matt, and then to myself, that things weren’t all right with me. It was in our bedroom, in the dark, that I cried and tried to explain that I had gone so deeply inside of myself, so quickly, that I was lost. The upstairs bathroom, which we renovated together, saw me curled on the cold tile floor, my body clammy with sweat, my mouth dry, my stomach aching from the dry heaves. It was in the kitchen that Matt first told me that he hated this town, and that he wasn’t happy with his life. The family room was where I broke into his email and found all the letters he had written to her. It was here that I heard the phone message where she called me a bitch who was “keeping them apart.” It was up in the bedroom again, where Matt sat in his closet and cried, clothes piled all around him, the day he decided to move out. It was in the driveway that I stood to watch him leave.
This is the house where I prayed for guidance. Where I prayed for Matt’s father when he was ill, and where I wept when I heard he had died. Where I prayed for my grandmother when she was dying. The house where I begged for Matt to come back, and where I swore I would never let him come again. It was this house where I completely fell apart and where my friends and family gathered to put me back together again. Where my closest friends shared themselves with me. Where I sobbed when Matt took Calder away from me. Where I sit while I write this.
How do I even begin?