“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” Chapter 23 “Our House”
By Bruce Williams
So, we’re putting our house of 15 years up for sale—cleaning out every cobwebbed corner, dejunking every drawer, steaming carpets, puttying screw holes and the like. It’s so clean and like-new now that I’d almost like to live there again. If the framework and drywall could talk, they’d likely tell some great stories.
It was 2005. As soon as we got settled in after buying the house, we decided to try and start our future family, thinking we would approach it casually—and in my case—eagerly. One short week later, Michelle came bursting out of the bathroom in her bathrobe, incredulously hoisting her pee stick with its plus sign high in the air as I characteristically loafed on the bed…the two of us soon gathered around it greedily as if we’d discovered fire for the first time and were warming our faces in the miraculous glow of its embers.
Nine Red Robin cheese-sticked months later (Michelle’s craving that I happily piggy-backed along with), we brought Jack home and plopped him into his room, checking on him apprehensively throughout those first nights to make sure he was still breathing, like first-time parents are apt to do. By the time Lou came along (three years later—empathetically eaten cake cravings this time) we were so tired that if we heard them gagging on a pillow in the night we’d just sleepily reassure each other, “They’re fine…”. The “fine” trailing off into a winsome, carefree snore.
Jack would eventually drag his nine “lovies” into his closet to sleep, claiming he was fleeing “the man in the wall” (I know…creeeepy), the cloistered enclosure providing a similar security to a weighted blanket. He remained sleeping in his self-created lair for about three years—until he just as abruptly rejoined his bed after his mom painted the offending wall. Now down to just eight and a half lovies…his favorite one chewed down to its slobbery, nubby threads.
Seven years in we brought Ruby (Rotten) home as a puppy, and the video I shot with her and the kids, them prodding her along in their impossibly high, squeaky voices and wobbly legs as she eventually scurried up the hillside—safely away from them—to sit and catch her breath, shaking. Her disgusting indifference to our clean aesthetic would eventually lead us to replace the carpets and cloth couches with easy to clean flooring and wipe-downable leather sectionals.
There’d be some horrible scares—Jack’s croupy cough that sounded like something out of the Seventh Layer of Hell. Lou’s broken leg when she climbed up her untethered IKEA dresser and brought the whole thing crashing down on her little chicken wing of a leg. Both kids’ battles with pneumonia—Lou’s flopping like a beached fish as I nearly had to force-feed her the putrid antibiotics mixed into her apple sauce (she still won’t touch “the sauce” to this day), and Jack’s ambulance ride to Children’s in a blizzard, where he lost 15 pounds over four days, his waveringly plaintive, “Help me…” as I escorted him into the ER still haunting me to this day.
We’re on our third washing machine, second stove, second disposal and second dishwasher. There’s a second fridge in the garage just for beverages and frozen pizzas and Grandma’s jam. The garage is loaded to the rafters with holiday gear—giant Christmas choo choos, big plastic pumpkin candy bowls, snow village sets and turkey platters. We planted berries and fruit trees in the backyard, along with my Mom’s sumac starts that we jokingly grew to refer to as the “Mary Sue-macs” in her honor, chuckling further as we watched them insidiously crawl into both of our adjacent neighbors’ back yards with their unapologetic tentacles visible from our upstairs window. We added a basketball court that doubled as as above-ground pool base in the summer months. We even halfway tamed a squirrel that Lou nicknamed Peanut (she asked innocently if he’d be moving with us, but I think it was just a clever ploy in her ongoing campaign for another puppy). Sadly, we’ve lost both of our dads, her grandma and her brother while living under this roof.
Now off we go into the sunset—still looking for our next, bigger homestead—pondering whether or not we should just bury our equity into one of those giant motorhomes and travel the countryside like carefree vagabonds, but that would entail suffering through entirely too many of Jack’s trademarked Dutch ovens. We’re staying at my sister’s place in Port Orchard now while our friend Shelley schedules house tours…I’m sure people are enjoying criticizing our various paint colors and furniture choices, sniffing the air for any of our lingering remnants as they track their muddy shoes through our abandoned hallways. After all, that’s human nature (and we’re probably guilty of doing it ourselves as we tour open houses). So ready your vulnerable, unsuspecting neighborhoods, my friends, the Williamses may be coming your way!