We took a break for a while, but Ben and I are officially house hunting again.
What that means for the most part is that Eden and I, or Silas Eden and I spend a good chunk of time every day driving the neighborhoods looking for signs that I strain to see and dial as I drift nearly into parked cars lining the road. On good days, this hunting also means we tour empty houses.
Between the ages of 11 and 16, I followed my parents through dozens of houses. I remember racing through wide open living rooms with my brothers and finding passageways to the attics. For the 20 minutes we explored a new house, we could be children about to stumble into Narnia or to find an old letter hidden under floorboards, a hint of the history lingering in an empty old space.
Last week, we went down to the beach to look at a wee bit too expensive house a few blocks from the ocean. The man showing it, though he has three grown kids of his own, barely broke a smile the whole time as he led me up and down the stairs. More than once, as we walked down a hall or into a new room, I heard a cupboard door rattle and saw Silas's head pop out with an "AHH!" (he is working on scaring me). I may have been the only one amused.
On Friday, I looked at a house that I actually loved a lot of things about -- tiny but endearing, old with a brick fireplace and double-hung windows. By the time I called Ben to see when he could come look at it, the kids were barefoot in the yard collecting "pixie dust" (which I think was seed pods) and finding, what Eden called "ant eaters" (some kind of bug with a pincher? unclear). Ben couldn't come for another hour and a half, but the kids were so happy that I decided to wait. We literally played house for an hour. The realtor, who was starving, dashed to the grocery store and came back with bags of lunchables (he is Silas's hero), goldfish, apples (which remained untouched), and cheese sticks.
There have been houses that smelled like old rug and "party" (Ben's term for the smell of houses in college post-party). There have been houses with just dirt and gravel in the yard. A house that shared a garage with old old people next door. A house as dark as an alley. A house with an enchanted backyard and perfect treehouse but that didn't have a shower at all, just a single sunken tub. Many locked houses where I've left the kids buckled in the running car while I climb garden fences and press my forehead to the windows for a peek.
The other day, I parked in an alley and pulled the kids out of the car so we could walk around to the front door. Immediately, Eden walked up to the filthy garage door, put her hand on it, and said absently, "this is a beautiful house." Yes, they have been dragged through many houses. A
Off I go again right now to see a couple of more. I am learning patience, and something, too, about surrender; it's hard to reign in that child-like thrill of possibility standing in an empty place and to allow these houses to come and go, hard to trust that on the right day (which may not even this month), we will find our house.