Sliding Into Home

July 1st, 2012
Two Days Before My Fifty-Fifth Birthday

Dear Friends,

Guess what I’m getting for my birthday this year?  A NEW HOUSE!!! That’s right, we passed final inspection on the house on Friday, so I am really, finally, going home. At last.

When the inspector arrived on Friday, I was nervous. There were only a few electrical corrections to make from the previous inspection, but we’ve had so many setbacks these last few months that I held my breath and barely dared to hope. And when the inspector turned to me and said, “Well, you can start moving your stuff in now,” I choked up. I thought that when that moment came I would jump up and down and hug him, but instead I just stared blankly at him and said, “Really? Are you sure?” He laughed, and said, “Yep!” and I turned to Jerry the Contractor and said “Oh my God! I have a HOUSE!” And I have not stopped smiling since.

Building a house is an incredible privilege, and it is also a maddeningly imperfect process. You can make impeccable lists, research every topic down to the finest detail, check and re-check, and things go wrong anyway. The wrong bathtub gets ordered (that one was my fault) the light fixtures somehow get lost in the mail, you end up a box short on the bathroom tile and can’t quite get the back splashes done, and on and on. The countertops you thought were ordered two months ago somehow slipped through the cracks and never got ordered at all, and you have to send the plumber and the electrician and the tile setter home, and everyone gets grumpy and irritable, especially you.

Each major delay sent me into a new emotional tailspin. The worst was this spring, when I found out the house wouldn’t be done by the first of May as we had planned, which meant I had to go look for yet ANOTHER place to live (number four.) That was one of my low points. I was already so exhausted from moving three times, managing all the details of the insurance AND building a house AND helping other fire survivors AND working, and I just couldn’t face yet another temporary rental. People would ask, cheerily, “When will the new house be done?” and I would grumble, “Oh, don’t ask!” I was clearly not at my best.

Things never turn out quite the way we imagine, do they? We think we have a level of control, or security, and if we do everything right, voila! We’ll get what we expected. If we work hard and save, we’ll get to retire. Who knew the company would go belly up, and the retirement fund disappear? We think if we eat right and take care of ourselves, we’ll be healthy. And then wham – a terrible illness hits, out of the blue. We think, “Wait a minute, this wasn’t supposed to happen.” As John Lennon wrote,  (over quoted, but so, so true) “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

In the beginning of this process, I imagined I would build the perfect house.  Instead, I’ve gotten to the “good enough” phase, where instead of perfection, you just want to be finished.  In the final months of a house building project, you’re just plain exhausted. The house is gorgeous, yes, and you love it, but your brain is fried, the money is running out, and it’s a race with the clock. By the time I got to choosing light switches, I was about done. “Plastic or metal? Paddles or levers? Dimmers or on/off? Screwless plates or the standard kind? White, almond, or a custom color?”  Oh, I don’t know. Whatever. Just put something up there and we’ll call it good.

For the last two years, I have imagined that finishing the house would be like hitting a home run. I’d swing the bat and crack! the ball would sail out over the field, over the fence, while the crowd cheered. I’d take a leisurely victory lap around the bases, waving my little hat, and gracefully touch home plate without breaking a sweat.  But these last few months have been more like being stuck on third. I’ve been standing there, itchy and restless, inching my way toward home plate, waiting, and waiting, and wondering if this inning of my life would ever be over.

And now, instead of a graceful jog around the diamond, I am sliding into home.  On Friday, when I move – for real and forever – I will at last leap off of third, and run as fast as I can toward the plate. I will dive into the dirt – reaching, and reaching – and finally, finally touch home. It will be messy, and imperfect, but I will stand up, and dust myself off, and cheer, as the Umpire declares, in a loud and triumphant voice, “SAFE!”

And I know you’ll be cheering with me.

Thanks for being on my Home Team, and Sweet Dreams,


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20 Responses to Sliding Into Home

  1. Judy Wathen says:

    Thanks for another post so soon. What a perfect birthday present – going home!

  2. Congratulations on your new home!!

  3. Susan Ringoen says:

    Congratulations Andi! I’m cheering! So happy for you. Your new home looks beautiful!

  4. Ann McCauley says:

    Hip, hip, hurray!!

  5. Laurie Fisher says:

    Mazel tov…lots of years of peace and happiness in your new home.

  6. Ann Goldman (47 Post Boy) says:

    Welcome back to the neighborhood, Andi. Let us know if we can help…any time!

  7. I love the baseball metaphor, especially since I just watched Moneyball last night! Congratulations, Andi. I remember building my house in Ohio and the exhaustion of making all those choices. You expressed it perfectly. And next week you’ll be on to another set of issues and the house build project will gradually fade into history. Enjoy the process and the excitement, and thanks for the reminder: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Ah, life, in all its glorious imperfection!

  8. Andy says:

    I’m so happy – and relieved – for you, Andi. Congratulations – and Happy Birthday! You’ve been through such an ordeal – I admire your courage, perseverance and thoughtfulness about your process as you faced so many challenges. May you and Nellie live a happy, healthy, peaceful life in your new home.

    It was great seeing you!

  9. Mary O'Conor Rosenfeld says:

    DELIGHTED for your great news ~ ENJOY!
    Blessings, Mary

  10. Marian Thier says:

    You’re strong, determined, and good-humored through what would sink many a Molly Brown. Just delighted for your just rewards.

  11. Ah! Enjoy that victorious moment as you slide in.

  12. Hilary says:

    This is the best news, and you wrote about it so eloquently. Here’s cheering for you from Louisville, and I’m sure the wait, despite all the trials and tribulations in between starting the build and now, was worth it. Finally! The best birthday present! And your pup is sure to enjoy your new home as much as you.

  13. Julie Luckey says:

    My heart has been beating in step with yours, every word you write about the recovery and rebuilding process could have been written by me. Especially enjoyed chuckling about stuff like “which light switches?” GAAAAHHHH….. times 1,000. And now all that is mostly done, and the fun and healing of making the New House all your own can start.

    I am a few months ahead of you in Going Back Home (I’m in Salina), and how my heart rejoices to read about your birthday present. Andi, thank you a million times for your beautiful chronicles; and joyous congratulations, for now the Overwhelm will start to seep away and Home will begin to seep in.


  14. Andi! Welcome to the next leg of your journey! So happy for you and Nellie!

  15. Jodi says:

    I’m very happy to hear the inspection went well. Now you will be home. No more moves, and able to settle in. That’s wonderful!

  16. Hi Andi! It may not be the perfect house with the exact right light switches. It might not be the house you loved and lost. BUT IT’S IN THE MEADOW! Oh yay! I’m glad I get to think of you being back there. And some things about the house might be better because although you’re not as used to them as you were to the old house, you got to choose them carefully. The old house was a compromise too. All houses are–they’re accomodations. It’s with time that they become our homes.

    Move it on in. Lots of love to you.

  17. Cheri Hoffer says:

    My prayer for you, Andi is exhalation of almost forgotten proportions and sleep so deep that Nellie has to burrow under the covers to nibble on your toes when she’s hungry in the morning. For Nellie I imagine the joy of having her meadow and her mom fully back, with whom to savor those sunset walks up the mountain and those snowy winter nights by the fire. Yes, with a prayer to once again savor fire, if it’s not that way already. YOU look as wonderful and new as the house. Good work on caring for your personal temple and thank you for the inspiration!

  18. Mandy says:

    Happy move in day! You’ll be exhausted, no doubt but you will be HOME :)

    Thinking of you,

  19. candace says:

    All blessings to you and Nellie as you settle into “home” again. Your courage and persistance in spite of challenges and exhaustion are a shining example for all. And each of us will face our own “fires”, our own disasters, our own inevitable detours away from the comforts of the known. Rest now, dear ones, and reconnect with the peace that is your birthright.

  20. amy jo says:

    congrats, andi. i hope you had a relatively stress-free move and i hope the new house is all that you’ve wished it to be. prayers for you and nellie for a smooth (last) transition.

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