Everyone has their complaints about their home, right? Mine had horrible floors (until that handy husband o’ mine did some serious cleaning with some serious machinery and left them look spankin’ new!) My cabinets and countertops leave much to be desired. And this little casita? It’s on the “wrong” side of town and perhaps for many, the “wrong” side of the earth.
But, you know what? These four walls, six if we count the laundry room, are special to me. I didn’t realize just how special until late April, when there were reports of various cases of leukemia in our neighborhood. It was all very Erin Brokovich-y, really. We were looking at water samples, environmental radiation, meeting and corresponding with specialists and doctors, researching every possible aspect.
We were doing all of this while simultaneously looking at houses. I'd done a less thorough search last year, when we were looking at schooling options. After months of searching for something close to our favorite schools, but also close enough to R’s job that our family time wouldn’t be severely impacted, we’d determined this was the best spot for us.
Resuming the search, just in case we HAD to go, was a complicated/emotional process. It wasn't as simple as choosing another four walls. We had to re-visit the school issue; examine our values and re-work fundamental choices about the way we plan to raise Ely; re-map our life plan (a couple different times); re-evaluate my decision to stay home with Ely and my independent employment options; discuss what we were (and weren’t) willing to sacrifice in (and for) a house. There were lots of tears, debate, silence, worry…
It felt like my house was breaking up with us….and I was still in love. You see, this is where R and I learned to be married, where we’ve fought, cried and laughed together. It’s where Chile became home for me and where I became a full-fledged grown up (although I am not sure when THAT happened!). It’s where we painted the walls colors my mother would never have allowed in her house (and have slowly changed them to mom-approved (shall we call them “mature”?) colors!). It’s where we brought Ely home for the first time and where we grew into our roles as parents. The prospect of having to leave had me anxious, to say the least.
On Saturday, we met with a pediatric oncologist who specializes in leukemia. She happened to be at a national leukemia conference when the news was aired. She participated in the discussions on the issue there and at the Ministry of Health. In both venues, it was determined that our neighborhood presents no increased risk. She pointed out other factors and possible explanations for the situation. Most importantly, she said that if it were her family, she would have no hesitations about staying…
This week, I find myself delighting in my house, bad cabinets and counters and all! Now that the fear, confusion and resentment have passed, I feel like we’ve given our relationship a fresh start. I even weeded the front flowerbeds today! This whole ordeal reminded me of all the reasons I love this casita on the "wrong" side of town- and that the best thing about our house is who I am fortunate enough to share it with. Because that little girl and that always-there-for-me-husband-o’-mine? They are “home”.