Life is so interesting. People are so interesting. I’m 48 and it amazes me the lessons that still come my way. I think they keep comin’ because I stay open to them. Case in point:
Just over two months ago, Megan, Amelia, Banjo, and I moved from Colorado to Michigan. We didn’t have a house yet, we wanted to wait until we could search in person. So Megan’s family, my in-laws and sister in law, offered for us to crash with them while we looked. We were stoked at the free lodging. We knew it would be good for Amelia to have that close time with her grandparents and Aunt. What we weren’t completely sold on was how it would be to go from living on our own terms to sharing a home with her folks and sister. Now I have to say, in absolute sincerity, I inherited cool in-laws. I know a lot of people tend to complain about theirs, but I genuinely like mine. They are good-hearted and interesting people. They like to laugh and they are open to the joys of life. That being said, we were sharing a home with them, with our baby daughter and our fart-knocker of a dog. And the biggest detail is that we had no idea how long the house search would last. It could happen quickly. Or it could be months on end. And let’s throw Covid into the mix. Three of us were working from home all sharing the basement. When we first arrived and for the first month, the housing market was on absolute pause. Very few houses were going on the market and realtors couldn’t show you anything in person anyway. We looked at one house through a video tour and quickly decided that was not how we were going to find our digs. Friends would laugh when I told them I was going to be crashing with Megan’s family. Many sarcastic “Good Lucks!” were thrown my way. Megan’s brother Mickey was taking bets on how many days we would make it before we all killed each other. And I’ll admit, for the first week or two, we all weren’t so sure ourselves. It just felt like the kind of situation that was scripted to fail.
And yet, we actually did really well. Megan helped translate me to her folks, and her folks to me. At first, it was just nice to be out of isolation and with other people. And it was lovely to have extra caring hands to help with Amelia. Meg and I could actually walk away and trust that she was fine. We took bike rides and a few naps and ran an errand or two. Little luxuries not often afforded to us in the first year of her life. And even after the first few weeks, we continued to find joy in communal living. We took a lot of walks. We spent a lot of quality time with Sarah which is always a treat. We did the daily newspaper quiz. We planned menus for the week. We shared the chores of the house (as much as my mother-in-law would allow). We tried to find movie choices we could all enjoy. We discussed the issues of the nation and we continued to experience this once in a lifetime (God willing) pandemic. Together. In community. I felt it the strongest every morning when I would climb the stairs to the main level. There were always voices. Always people to connect with. Always laughter or discussion going on. Always people to say “Good Morning Jonah”. It was really nice. Don’t get me wrong, we had a few bumps in the road. 3-4 full on melt downs. Sometimes by an individual. Sometimes between two of us. Sometimes it was the Hatfields and the McCoys. And yet, they were few and far between. We communicated as best we could. We tried to bring humor into as many moments as possible. We intentionally got out of the house from time to time. And most important, we finished every single day with a Nestle’s frozen ice cream cone. A delightful tradition. (Side note: the box of cones comes with regular, fudge-centered, or caramel-centered. The nights when you get the caramel were good nights!)
About 5 weeks into our stay, we found a house. It was just what we were looking for. In a great area with great schools and lots of space for those accustomed to apartment living. We made an offer and bought the house. Three weeks later, last Thursday, we moved in.
There is something so exciting about moving into a new place. Getting to set it up just the way you want. Getting to put your touches on an unfamiliar scene. Turning a house into a home. And as excited as we were to be back into our own space and on our own terms, there was a palpable sadness in my heart over this past weekend. It was so quiet. There was so much privacy. It was, in a word, lonely. I admit, that I missed the circus. I missed the dance of 5 adults trying to navigate one fridge and one kitchen. I missed the random conversations. I missed having multiple people to bounce things off of. I missed 5 adults all focused on Amelia. And I really missed the ice cream cones. This weekend we got skinny cow mini cones to try and pacify but it just isn’t the same. I love our new house. And I am madly in love with my wife and child. I also know that I will readjust and find my groove here. I’ll rekindle my love affair with solitude. I just think it is interesting to note that, at the end of the day, we need each other. People were built to work together with other people. Not that it is always easy, or always goes well, but it is in our fibers. It’s the very reason I have always loved camp. And have never left it. Because it is the time when I am closest to people. Dealing with the joys and frustrations of community. Having no choice but to manage issues when they arrive. And usually inspired to be a better version of myself. Someday, I hope and plan to live in community full time. Not sure when or how. Just certain after the past few months that I was meant to live that way. For now, I’m going to go watch a movie on the couch. Whichever one I choose.