We’d looked for a home for nearly three years.
Twasn’t easy, with the limitations we had way back when…we had a fairly limited budget, a credit rating held together with Scotch tape and chewed gum, and a knowledge of real estate second only to our knowledge of robotic surgery.
We had hoped to find a rural homestead, but the search was fruitless after nearly three summers of driving throughout the rolling farmlands of Western New York. Either the property was perfect and the house a shack, or vice-versa. Our real estate agent was new to the trade; frankly, we were her first clients, and her selections were not always spot-on (I’ll never forget the house that used to be the administration building and tower for an airstrip, complete with runway). We tried to switch to a more experienced agent, but our budget was a bit too small for his efforts and he all but ignored us.
Our small children had grown used to long trips in the country and had a cadre of games and art supplies stored in the van for our excursions. We stopped now and again for ice cream or burgers, so the rewards kept them in line, but even they were growing weary. We began to feel discouraged and took a few weekends off.
“Why don’t you move near the hospital?” a friend asked. We never considered moving to the city; we were suburban born and raised, and it seemed very incongruent to look at a postage-stamp sized urban lot when we’d spent months looking at acreage. I drove in to the city to my job at the hospital every day and never saw anything that remotely looked like home. Nonetheless, we decided to take a look; it couldn’t hurt, and the pickings were slim anyway.
We attended an open house in the north end of the city, a tidy working-class neighborhood with a central avenue that boasted restaurants and quaint shops. When we pulled up to what would become our home we were immediately drawn to it; the gardens were neat and well-manicured, and the porch was large and inviting. Inside the woodwork and leaded glass windows smacked of turn-of-the-century charm, and the back yard was secluded and deeply green…we felt like we belonged.
We submitted a bid, it was accepted, and a month later we entered our new home.
It was a dream come true, from the built-in cabinets to the wood-burning fireplace, and we were in love with our beautiful house. It was perfect, and the children immediately made it their own.
It has been many years since the day we crossed the threshold for the first time as homeowners, and much has changed. The house has seemingly shrunk. Every paint chip, flaw and stain greets my eye. The leaded glass cabinet doors have seen better days, and the porch has a bit of a sag. When I think of the thrill of moving in so long ago, I wonder why I didn’t see those things. I seemed to be so more optimistic then, so eager to see the beauty over the time-worn. Now I see things and immediately worry about time and home equity loans, budgets and property value.
As I age I have also begun to see the wear-and-tear of my own body. I am too fat, my pressure is too high…my energy level waxes and wanes, and my beard is slowly graying. The children are growing fast – one in Manhattan, another married, another off to college; the family that drove across the country side seemed so permanent, so stable…but they are leaving one by one. My beloved has one artificial knee, and I’m afraid it won’t be long before the other needs new parts. We walk a bit slower, and after walking tend to need ibuprofen a bit too much.
This is such a transitional time; I’m not sure how to proceed. Of course, I’ve never been much of a life-expert; I pretty much make it up as I go…but now everything is in a state of flux. In two months I’m going to welcome my first grand-child. That seems like a turning-point, and I’m not sure just what it will bring…I am tentatively ready.
Spiritually I continue to flounder, wishing for consolation or a sign and coming up empty. The usual things don’t seem to carry the same comfort, and I haven’t been able to put my finger on something to fill their void, so I stick as best I can with what I know. The questions come; boy do they. Sometimes I block them out in fear. I used to be so sure, so confident, as only the very young can be, I suppose. Seems a bit foolish now; yet there is a gnawing in my soul, a yearning I can’t deny.
Many have written to me since my previous less-than-jovial posts, and I thank you for your words and prayers. I’m still struggling, and many of you are too, I have learned. I am encouraged by that kind of honesty; I think it is the only way we can really grow in wisdom and knowledge…I need to be real; I feel as though there is little use in appearances anymore.
At the Easter Vigil our cantor sang, “Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul is longing for you; thirsting for you, my God”. Those words were a powerful reminder to me of the irresistible attraction we have for the one who made us. No matter the struggle, no matter the feeling of doubt and self-deprecation, no matter the sense of discontent, no matter the world spinning in wild rejection of all things holy – I thirst for my God.