Saturday, April 13, 2013

Real Life is Real: A Fairy Tale

SO! I've been hinting for the past couple of weeks that something was in the works in my real life, and since all the puzzle pieces appear to have come together and the deal is, as they say, done, I can now share my news!

(Some of you may be more excited about this than others. Those with the highest potential for excitement include anyone who has come to visit us over the past 7 years and had to sleep on an air mattress in our living room or shell out for a hotel just to spare yourself the indignity.)

We bought a house!

It's our first home. We've spent our adult lives in the Bay Area, surrounded by one of the most ridiculously expensive, recession-resistant housing markets in the country, so this is something we a) had to work very hard for and b) weren't entirely sure we'd be able to achieve. And yet here we are. It all happened very suddenly-- we weren't expecting the opportunity to arise right now and hadn't yet realized we were ready to jump-- and then the universe just aligned and it all came together. 

It feels a bit like destiny!

So we've been signing papers and getting inspections and collecting moving boxes and blowing up our Pinterest boards with pictures of back yard landscaping and kitchen restorations and home decor tips and paint colors. It's pretty heavenly, actually.

The house is a classic 1925 California Bungalow, just what I wanted, with beautiful inlaid wood floors and built-ins, and it's spacious and interesting and has lots of potential for fun improvements. The kitchen and bathrooms have been modernized a bit more than we'd like, so we'll be restoring them back to period over the next few years (hex tile, how I love you!).

But for now, we'll be looking for the projects that will give us the most bang for the least buck, and that means painting rooms and going nuts on the back yard, where we are determined that creativity and elbow grease will work magic.

It should be noted that neither of us is particularly plantsy (plantsy? Plant-positive? Plant-capable? Plantsy should be a word and that's what it should mean. So it is written and so it shall be). And we've never done much yard/landscaping work. 

And by "not much" I mean "none."

But that's what the internet is for, right? I mean, we're not idiots--we can follow instructions-- and we can certainly lift a shovel. I've been known to get dirty. And I long for an awesome back yard with fragrant flowers and soft grass and butterflies and a place for my girls to play and a place for us to lounge and entertain friends and a place for our dog (which we now get to have!) to frolic.

So we have incentive. And time. And a growing, surreal excitement over the fact that this is actually happening, we have our own place, and we get to do whatever we want.

I never realized how profoundly I'd be affected by that. I feel, for the first time, I think, like I can allow myself to get as excited as I want to about... well, everything, really. Having our own place gives a special purpose to so many things-- the money and time and creativity we dedicate to our living space is now an investment, not a temporary facade or something not worth the effort since the space isn't actually ours. 

I think I'd gotten so used to renting that I didn't realize that undercurrent was there. I didn't realize I'd felt so temporarily placed until this week, when I suddenly found myself planted here, in this little town I love, with my amazing husband and my sweet little girls (and our future dog-- have I mentioned the dog?). I also didn't realize how foreign and strange it would feel to be able to let my dreams run rampant.

I didn't know I wasn't letting them do so, before. But it makes sense that I wasn't, when I think about it. Enthusiasm is scary. Wanting is scary. It's a vulnerability that triggers me, somehow. 

I'm sure it's got a lot to do with T and the residuals of that whole thing, but maybe also with the fact that I never launched, back when I should have, because of the accident and all that followed, and so I've always had a sense of waiting for my life to start that has kept me, in a very real way, from actually... you know... starting.

I'm honestly surprised by how deeply it's affecting me, this house. I thought it would feel like the culmination of a dream, not the beginning of one. But that's exactly what it feels like: the dawn of a whole new day.  My husband and I have been marveling at the freedom we suddenly feel. I don't think either of us realized how much we'd been holding back.

Well, we're not holding back anymore. And it is exhilarating!

It feels appropriate to talk about this home-owning experience here, because the deep level of excitement I feel is one I haven't felt often over the last 20 years. I was excited to get married. I was excited to get pregnant and to have my daughters. But as far as experiences that cross my narrow emotional boundaries without triggering my PTSR in hugely negative ways, that's about it.

So here I am, with the super-trifecta of awesome grown-up life events finally complete, and I'm feeling a level of exhilaration that I'm not sure I've felt since before that drunk driver made dreaming of the future feel like a dangerous threat.

It's striking me suddenly that it didn't feel safe to dream about those three things in particular: husband, children, a deeply-rooted home. They feel so... necessary to my life, so essential to my character, that not having them someday was too terrifying to contemplate, so allowing myself to consciously desire them was skirting dangerous territory.

In order to fully embrace your longing for something, you have to acknowledge the not-having, and that, I see now, was too painful for me to do.

Instead, in true PTSR fashion, I ignored the longing so I wouldn't have to risk sorrow or disappointment or deep, unrequited desire.

Keep it level. Keep it smooth. Keep everything-- every thought, every feeling, every dream-- at a constant, monotonous medium.

Thank god for the Wise Adult within, who knew I was afraid to hope and yet managed to fulfill that longing anyway. Husband: perfect. Children: amazing. 

And now, at long last: home, sweet home.

It was a piece I didn't know was missing. Now that it's filled, I feel, strangely, much bigger than the sum of my parts. I've beaten a demon this week. A secret one. One I didn't realize had been menacing me for a very long time. It feels like one of the single biggest steps I've take on this journey out of the darkness of PTSR.

I didn't know a house could have such power. I guess because it isn't really the house that has it. It's the dream. 

More than that: it's the ability to dream. The permission. I have the most visceral feeling, right now, of easing my foot off the brakes, more than I ever have before. It feels like I'm finally, finally, beginning to pick up speed. Like the momentum that has been building since this work began has suddenly been allowed to fulfill its promise and push me forward, back into the world.

I saw an unattributed quote today: "Life holds special magic for those who dare to dream." I guess I'll find out. 

Dreaming sounds pretty good to me. I'm ready for a bit of magic.

And also a dog. Have I mentioned the dog?

As you might imagine, posting anything of length will probably be difficult over the next few weeks as we pack up our stuff and move into our new home. But I plan to keep my schedule, so you can expect to hear from me every week anyway. I just might be talking about paint chips a little more often than usual. I'm sure, if I think about it long enough, I can find a connection between PTSR and wall-color choices. I wonder if research has been done?


  1. Elizabeth Graham24 April, 2013 09:06

    This is so exciting! I can just imagine your bungalow... sounds fairytale-like for sure. Can't wait to hear about the dog, and adventures in plantsing!

  2. "Life holds special magic for those who dare to dream." This reminds me of a quote I once saw attributed to Goethe, although apparently it isn't his: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. / Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."

    Congratulations on your new house. It's beautiful when a dream comes together. May your new space be the crucible in which more dreams take shape.