For a long time, even through my (English, lest the irony be lost) MA, I had the definition of ambivalence wrong. Has that ever happened to you with a word? Anyway, I know what it means now. I mean, I really really do.
So, after I posted earlier about putting the house on the market, we went to check out two apartments, and we sort of fell apart. Because here’s the thing: we don’t want to sell our house. We don’t want to leave this place.
And we sort of want to leave it.
And we don’t want to live in some crumby beige apartment.
And we want to leave the bathroom where we lost two of our children.
And we never want to. And we can’t fathom not coming home to the home where we brought Bram home. And this is the only place we’ll ever know Saul. And Hades died here. And both of my aunts and cousins and my mom helped us paint this house, including the trim on the steps. And we tried and failed to become gardeners here. And paced at all hours of the day with two newborns. And fought. And made love. And did countless inseminations. Including our first. And the last one the day before my dad died. I was standing in the bathroom when we got that call. And Bram first rolled over for the first time in the very room I’m typing this in. And we had summers worth of Summer Supper Clubs in the backyard, our house and grounds full of our friends. Of food and laughter and games. We had a fundraiser cakewalk here on my 31st birthday. We picked baby names and brought home Iris. We became an us here. A family.
Friends came here with broken hearts. With good news. With bottles of champagne and bags of groceries and pots of soup. J built a bookshelf. I sang “Iowa” to Emmett in the kitchen the night before we lost her. I read Harry Potter to J’s belly every night. I sang “Your Song.” Every night for over a year, first to a baby I could only feel through my wife’s skin and then to my child in my arms. Wrapped against me. Tom Waits’ “Time.” Every night. Most nights still. I worried we wouldn’t make it. I was sure we would make it.
This is my home. This is the most home home I’ve ever known and I am in love with it. With the green of Bram’s room’s walls and the friends who painted them while I rested in a hotel with morning sickness and the stomach flu weeks away from a loss that would change my life.
With the 1920s heat grates and the 1920s light fixtures. With the doors that never quite work right no matter what we do. With the floor we laid when J was 37 weeks pregnant. With the dogwood tree that’s dying in the backyard because of last year’s dry summer. With the curly willow, under which J buried Love Child’s yolk sac because we missed her body coming out, despite our obsessive watching. With the trim my cousins painted and the windows that make it impossible to rearrange furniture and the orange part of the cabinet that our friend Beth absentmindedly and accidentally painted.
This is our home. I’ve never had this kind of history with a house, and I don’t want to leave.
But here’s where we find ourselves. And I’m open to advice. Like, please make this decision for us. Please. Because like so many other choices, it is torturing me. And lately, even when I’m sure of a choice, I’m likely wrong. I was sure Love Child would be fine. I cannot be trusted. So here it is. By all means, solve it.
- The market in our state is actually really great right now.
- Houses at our price point in our neighborhood are going under contract in two to four weeks. Which is crazy. And which may not last until spring.
- If our house sells by the end of summer, we could get a place with a one-year lease. Otherwise, if we sell before we leave the town, we’ll have to find a month-to-month.
- We can’t afford to pay our mortgage here and rent wherever we move. At least not for more than a month or two. So if the market turns again…
- We can’t leave too early. So if I find a job or even a postdoc, we can’t leave until a month before I start work because we can’t go without a paycheck for long. So if we wait to put the house on the market until, say, March, and it sells in May, where would we go until the end of July?
So there it is. Staying is a gamble. It pays off if we sell when we want to sell, but otherwise… And there are inviting things about leaving the house. Being free of yard work for a year. Getting to let go of this place gradually, one year our home, the next our town. Not being haunted by the memories that ache more than anything else.
But trading the storm grey walls of our bathroom, the subway tile, the kitchen cabinet glass from an old local department store for beige walls and beige floors and suburbia? I mean, it would be one thing if we could afford to be downtown, you know? Somewhere fabulous for our last year? But unless we’re willing to lose a lot of space, which means no longer being eligible for foster care or adoption…
Ambivalence. I know what it means.
Seriously, tell us what to do.