Friday, July 22, 2011

Moving to Who-Ville

So the truth is, the place we're moving into isn't the place we chose at all. We had a house all picked out--it wasn't perfect and some things weren't in as good condition as we would have liked, but the neighborhood was perfect and I was charmed by the breakfast bar and the tiny fenced backyard. The landlord even reacted favorably to my page-long list of repair requests. But in the process of making those repairs, and ELEVEN DAYS before my current lease expired, he decided that since the previous tenants cats had done so much damage, he didn't want this guy living there.

Obviously, we don't travel without him.

That left us in a crunch (read: complete, blind panic). We really wanted a house, but I'm nothing if not a realist and that just wasn't likely to happen in the handful of days I had to find a place and still give us time to get moved.

The girl at the one and only local property management company had a few townhouses and duplexes to show me, but I was having a hard time changing gears and I only agreed to look at them because I had visions of homelessness. Or, worse, having to renew my current lease and stay in The Wrong Town for another year.

At the very last place we looked, I saw this in the courtyard:

I'll admit that The Grinch was never my favorite Dr. Seuss story (even before Jim Carrey got at the character) and I really wanted my own yard, but who doesn't want the Whoville Christmas tree in her front yard? (Save your breath--if you claim that you wouldn't I won't believe you.)

Fair warning to my new neighbors: we will be decorating that tree. Yes, I did say "we".

So it's not everything we wanted, but it's in the place we call home. And the child who sometimes laments that we don't live near her grandmother in rural Indiana has this outside her bedroom window:

And she was so eager to establish that "I live here now" that she settled right in and announced, "I'm sitting in my living room. I took my shoes off."

And, you know, tiny people incapable of malice are going to gather in my yard and sing on Christmas morning.


Just a brief announcement for anyone who might be interested: after 6 very long years in the wrong place, we're finally going home. This week.

Enough said.

And it's a good thing it is, because between work and packing and picking up the keys and connecting utilities and organizing a truck and all of that, I really don't have time to say more. But I will.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

You know the stuff I'm talking about--the teenagers in the movie sitting on the hood of a car looking out over the city and talking about things that seem immortal in that moment; the kids jumping fearlessly off an old rope into the lake on a seemingly endless summer day; the moment when a man's hand touches a woman's at the edge of the water at sunset; the family singing together in the car.

It happens.

Maybe your best friend cuts a foot off your hair in a dormitory bathroom one night, both of you giggling at your own daring; maybe you stand with an old friend at ocean's edge at sunset, your child by your side and hers in her arms, and watch an unexpected school of dolphins play in the surf; maybe a man spontaneously picks a flower for you walking by the river at dusk; maybe you and your closest friends drink wine coolers out of two-liter bottles by the lagoon late one night and end up singing old songs together on a tiny island; maybe a little girl carefully makes you a picnic lunch of bologna sandwiches and juice boxes to eat on the lawn with her on Mother's Day; maybe your conversation on a road trip with a friend keeps you laughing so hard that you almost don't want to reach your destination. Maybe you stand on a bridge at midnight and watch fireworks with all of the people you love most in the world; maybe a man plays a song just for you in a room full of strangers who will never know what it meant; maybe a tiny child looks up at you with shining eyes and says "this is fun!" and transforms everything about that moment; maybe wine tasting on a winter morning makes you reckless enough to say something you really, really should; maybe you dance in a downpour with your children; maybe you hang your purse in a tree one evening and roll down a hill with your oldest friend, forgetting for a moment that you're both in your forties and laughing like children; maybe a child who isn't yours gives you a heartfelt Mother's Day card; maybe any of a hundred thousand other moments you could recall happened when you least expected them, when you were walking down the street with a friend or awakened by a child or surprised by a lover or caught a glimpse of something magnificent.

Here's what almost never happens, though: you plan to have a magical movie moment and it turns into something memorable. The reason is both obvious and ironic. What makes those moments magical and memorable is their authenticity, the moment of connection, the spontaneous laughter, the way you feel when a certain person's hand covers yours. And you can't plan those things. You can plan the trappings, but the trappings don't really mean anything. Sunset doesn't make for romance; the sun sets every evening and most of the time most of us don't even notice it. It's the right company, the loosening of your sense of time when you're sitting with that person at dusk that lets you see the sunset differently, that makes it something memorable. And there's nothing inherently beautiful about a bologna sandwich. It's the tiny hands that worked so hard at making it just right for you and the tiny heart that motivated it that fix that lunch in your mind for the rest of your life.

How very sad that so often we get so caught up in staging the perfect moment that we're too busy to let one happen.