Remember this? It’s from the December Photo Project — lately, I’ve been aching to be in the light of those windows again. Yesterday, our container arrived, and we spent the day unloading and unpacking. It was exciting, but for me, it was sort of the nail in the coffin, reminding me that the duplex is no longer my home — all our things are here now, in Japan. Our new place has great natural lighting, and there are many things about it that are better than our place in Lincoln: more storage, more bedrooms, a dishwasher, a bigger living room, two bathrooms, and newer appliances (which we’ve purchased — if only they came with!). But in my heart, our other home was infinitely more comfortable, relaxing, beautiful, and memorable. It was our first.
I spent the night before our wedding day alone in that house, laying in bed, dreaming and praying about a life with Bryan. I shaved my legs in the shower the next morning, trying very hard not to get water on the floor because we hadn’t purchased a shower curtain yet.
I baked my first apple crisp in that kitchen (there were many baking firsts there). When I took it out of the oven, it slipped from my hands and splattered all over the floor. In my shock, I burst into tears and stood there, mourning the loss of the tasty Nebraska City apples baked inside. I went to the bottom of the stairs and cried out for Bryan, who had the mental reserve to do what I hadn’t thought of: he scooped it up, put it back in the pan, and took a bite. He told everyone at community dinner that night that the crisp had been on the floor, that he was still going to eat it, and that if anyone had reservations, they were free from any obligation to try it. I’m pretty certain everyone had some. 🙂
The kitchen was by far my favorite room of the house. We painted it green and it got the best light of the day. It had a swinging door that I could use to separate it from the rest of the house, creating my own little haven. I stood at those windows A LOT, washing dishes or mixing something on the counter, and I could hear the junior highers from Park Middle School yelling and laughing as they walked home at the end of the day. I watched the comings and goings of activities at Zion before the fire — and neighbors, getting in and out of their cars. I made huge messes in that kitchen. I think I probably rearranged the contents of the cupboards and counter tops three times, once just because I moved the mixer to a different place (and it ended up right back where it was at the beginning). Jones tasted his first foods in that room, and he army crawled and eventually walked on its floor. He was always in there because I was always in there — I’d set him in the livingroom with a toy, go get some water from the kitchen, and turn around to see him at the doorway. 🙂 He never left me alone. I’m beginning to realize what a blessing that is, a little someone wanting to be everywhere you are, no matter where that is.
I took my first pregnant-belly shot standing by the front door at 18 weeks. We painted those walls red only after painting them a weird blue color first. It took Bryan four or five coats to cover up the blue, and he stayed late into the night to finish it up before I moved in.
I also took my “I’m-overdue-tired-anxious-puffy-and-STILL-PREGNANT” shot in the duplex — right in front of the swinging kitchen door. Bryan and I had pretty much assumed that Jones would arrive at 37 weeks, and he waited till the induction at 41.5 weeks, so we spent a lot of time on the couch, watching movies and “the belly” as he moved around inside. I ate a lot of ice cream in the living room while I was pregnant, and I distinctly remember one night when I ‘thought’ Jones was going to come: we had friends over to watch “Stranger than Fiction” (great movie) and I was having small contractions, sitting on an exercise ball, eating ice cream. I decided to go to bed early, thinking, “I better rest up for the big day tomorrow!” — only to wake up at 3am to use the bathroom, with not the slightest contraction. 😛 When we left the house for the induction, it was strange to think that I would come back with a baby, and that I knew it was my last time to lock the doors before he came. We ate at Doozy’s, checked in to St. E’s, and the Doc broke my water — 11 hours later, Jones Michael was born.
These daffodils, which my friend and neighbor tells me are blooming right now, had popped up in our front ‘lawn’ in between leaving for the hospital and bringing Jones home. It was a pleasant and lovely surprise. I can’t even begin to mine the depths of memories I have in that home as a new mother: post-partum emotional wreckage, breastfeeding woes, Bryan and I learning to care for a newborn, night-time walks from our bedroom to Jones’s, nervous calls to the doctor, laughing together as Jones learned new faces, blowout diapers and lots of laundry, beginning to understand my calling as a wife and mother, walks around the neighborhood and nearby park, visiting the neighbors, crying with Bryan after Jones had gone to bed, saying goodbye to “Babywise”, learning how God created me to mother, Jones taking his first steps amidst packed boxes, his excitement upon returning home after long trips or visits, etc, etc, etc — a complete and total change of my identity.
There is another series of memories connected with this picture: sitting on the porch. It was one of my favorite things to do, and I would often make coffee, put Jones down for a nap, and journal on the porch as cars drove by. Sometimes I was still in my pajamas, my hair all askew (I was a new mom, people!) — this past fall, I wanted to savor the porch as long as I could, knowing it was my last season to use it, and I’d sit out there in my big, fluffy, white robe to stay warm. A few passers-by would stare and sometimes smile. 🙂
All these memories, good and bad, are haunting me in my new house. “Haunting” is a strange word, but I feel it’s appropriate: I can’t get these images out of my head, and I’m realizing how much of a visual person I am. I think its normal to grieve a home, especially for a woman who spends most of her time, energy, and heart into making it. But this is so much more than switching homes — these mental images keep reminding me of how different my life is now. A chapter is closed, a door is shut, and a new phase of life is beginning. I knew it would be difficult to remain upbeat about this new phase. I keep thinking, “Where is my sense of adventure? Why can’t I see the fun in all of this?” I know I will, but I need to grow into it. I told a friend while we still lived in Lincoln that I kept picturing moving to Japan and skipping forward 10 years, when we have older children and I’m middle-aged. 😛 Tell me — does that sound appealing or adventurous to you?
This is the last picture I took of our house, the day before we left Lincoln to fly across the ocean and land here, in Japan. Its a view of the kitchen door, our living room, our dining room hutch, from the front door — looking at this picture makes me incredibly sad. I told Bryan today that my entire life changed while I lived there, and I’m not who I was when I first moved in. I left college. I married. I got pregnant and gave birth to a son. I learned to cook. I discovered how much I enjoyed baking, one of my favorite hobbies now. I entered into the Zion community. I made changes-of-thinking on theology and life in the church. I made new friends and learned how to grow with old ones. I started blogging. (!)
As I was washing dishes tonight at my *new* sink, I started dreaming about all the memories we would create in this home in Shizuoka, as a family — and it was very therapeutic. It’s only natural that saying goodbye to our first home was much more than moving out of a house for me. I told Bryan tonight that with each move, I thought saying ‘goodbye’ would get easier, for I hoped that my time in each home would further me along the path enough that my grip on things of this world would loosen, and I would remember that these places are not my true home.
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” — C.S. Lewis