Ten years ago today there was an inch of ice glazing about a foot of snow, crunchy conditions the kids loved and I feared. I was concerned I’d slip on the ice and pulverize a liquor box of plates or heirloom sippy cups.
You might wonder just how I remember the conditions so clearly.
Ten years ago today was moving day.
After 15 years of living in a cozy little “starter” house — paid it off in 12 — our new baby meant we needed bigger digs. We weighed our options. Untethered occupationally, we could move our family any where we wanted.
New York was an option. I had recently been offered a senior editor position with Glamour magazine. It was very odd because the job description included three words — senior/editor/glamour — I never dreamed would apply to me.
With the whole world at our feet, we found a place 1.1 miles away up the hill. We love Latrobe (Baggaley Elementary in particular) and had no intention of straying.
Val found a little split level up in the woods. It had two acres and a roaring creek out back that even today always makes me wish I was 8 again. She asked me to take a look.
The homeowners were selling it themselves. The wife met me at the door and took me down to the basement to introduce me to her husband. He was sitting at a bar watching college football. There was a fire in the fireplace that equaled in warmth his friendly greeting. He asked if I liked beer.
I told him I did.
Two hours later, I hadn’t seen any more of the house and had momentarily forgotten the reason I was there.
Oh, yeah …
We’ll take it!
I make a big deal out of the anniversaries and birthdays involving inanimate objects.
I started doing when the guy who installed our hot water heater wrote “3-3-11” on the front where I can see it every time I stroll past. Our water heater is a Pisces.
Tonight, I’ll bring out a cake and we’ll sing Happy Birthday to the house. And I’ll ask its occupants to list three things they’ll most remember about the house from the past 10 years, a sensible request they’ll viciously mock then ignore.
It’s a pity. It’d be a great tribute to a place so full of fun and happiness the girls express reluctance to go out on the weekends.
So I’ll share with you my list, but because I love the place so much and it’s my blog my list’ll be closer to three dozen.
I’ll remember sitting by the fire with family in winter, on the porch in summer and reading baby books in bed with the little cuddlers.
I’ll remember the times there were mice in the pantry, stinkbugs on the ceilings and bears in the trees. I’ll remember the cutthroat pingpong matches in the garage, the chaotic renovations and the night Val and I stayed up ’til 3 a.m. when we got instantly hooked on “Breaking Bad.”
I’ll forever treasure the crooked Sharpie lines on the basement door jamb that mark the growth spurts of the birthday girls. I’ll remember the hammock, the trampoline and the day I nearly fell out of the big oak when I was putting up the tire swing. I’ll remember waiting for the school bus and giggly dinner conversation around the cramped kitchen table. I’ll remember stringing popcorn for the Christmas trees, hiding Easter eggs, and the joyful Thanksgiving dinners where my thankfulness came from deep in my heart. I’ll remember the serene sound of Mommy practicing church hymns on the basement organ so she'd be flawless again for the Sunday services.
I’ll remember the sound the crib made when the girls started to rattle awake, all the music we played, and the movies we watched. I have happy memories of explaining baseball to the girls. I’ll remember the night the 140-foot poplar came crashing down and just missed taking out the living room.
The ’10 snowfall that was so massive it marooned us for nearly a week is something I won’t forget. I’ll remember a thousand little games and jokes we played on one another and years from now they’ll make me smile in traffic at the surprise recollection.
Houses are like hookers in that they don’t become yours simply because you pay for them.
These things take time. Given enough of it, combined with ample love and laughter, and the most humble home can become a memory mansion.
I’ll be 54 next week, an age when it’s fair to speculate where I’ll be when I croak. Will it be inside this house?
I have no idea.
But I’m glad that 10 years ago today Val and I took steps that’ll ensure everyone will know where I truly lived.