Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Home, sweet home

When I met husband, he was a mid-twenty-something mechanical engineer, living in a one-bedroom apartment near his company's field office. Every room in that apartment opened off the living space -- there was not a single hallway. It was big enough for one, sure, but not what you'd call "roomy." That tiny apartment will always be beautiful to me in memory, because it's where we spent our time in the process of falling in love. Even now when I drive by the complex on the freeway, I smile.

Shortly after we met, husband was promoted and started a new job at his company's headquarters building downtown. He and his brother moved into a spacious three-bedroom apartment closer to the center of town. The apartment was a definite step up in terms of style and space, and his brother and I got along very well. And yet I mourned that tiny one-bedroom apartment I'd known and loved, and where I felt so safe. There in that little space, husband (who was still "boyfriend" at the time) and I were the lord and lady of the manor. We called all the shots from what to have for dinner to how late to hang out until I left for home, to what movie to rent on a Friday night. It was just the two of us, and I was terrified that his move would mean a loss of privacy for us. To complicate matters, when I first arrived at the new apartment to visit after work one day, husband's brother's girlfriend had already unpacked all the common areas and decorated with things I'd never seen before. It definitely didn't feel like "our" space, and I missed that sense of security and safety I'd come to depend on. 

It wasn't long before that apartment felt like my home away from home as well, though -- as I soon learned, wherever husband was always ended up feeling that way for me. He and his brother lived there for two years, and then husband decided to build a home in the suburbs. He graciously asked for and accepted my input on all aspects of the new house -- from floor plan to elevation, cabinets and countertops, paint and brick, tile and carpet. Whatever was picked was what we'd chosen together -- even though it wasn't my home, I wouldn't be living there, and I wasn't contributing a cent to the place. At the time it felt perfectly natural, and only now, looking back, can I fully appreciate how truly committed to one another we were, felt and acted. 

All the design decisions made and paperwork signed, construction began late in 2001. Early one morning before work, husband made the drive from his apartment to the lot of his future home, and in the wee hours he stood at the foundation of his home and tossed into the wet cement of his slab a time capsule. In the package were some pictures of the two of us and a letter we'd written the week before. 

I have a copy of it still. It's dated November 13, 2001. And I remember sitting at the dining room table, crying as I wrote it. Is it a silly letter? In some ways, yes ... but in ways I'm not ashamed of. Is it a dishonest letter? Not anymore, but it was at that point -- as you'll see, I wrote it as if husband and I were already married, which we would not be for another five long years. But we trusted so completely in that outcome, knew so surely that we were right for one another, that it seemed to make perfect sense to assume we'd be married and living together in one home at some point in the near future. 
This slab at [address] was poured on November 14, 2001. If you are reading this, know that once upon a time, two people lived in this home who loved each other very much. [Husband] and I have been together for exactly 26 months today, and are completely devoted to one another. Our love is a gift from God, and we are united in all aspects of our lives by His grace and His will. With His blessing, we know that our love will continue to illumine our lives, and will shine into the next world. Reader, know that once upon a time, two people fell in love deeply, completely. I know that [husband] is my heart, my soul, the answer to every prayer I have ever uttered. Thank God he feels the same way about me. 

We are two children of God, with one faith, one love, one purpose, one dream -- to live lives of kindness, joy, generosity and love. 

Wherever we are in this world or the next, know that we are rejoicing in God and in one another, always and equally.

** ** **

That's it. I don't know that anyone will ever find and read the original letter. I don't know if it even survived the process of the cement curing around it as the slab hardened. But it doesn't really matter if it did, because in my mind and in my heart, it's there. Husband carefully placed it in the corner of the house where the master bedroom would be, and so now as I get ready for bed, I think of that letter sometimes, quietly and forever declaring our connection to one another, literally making up the foundation of our days. 

Sometimes we talk about our next home, and what it will be like. There are things about this home that aren't perfect -- the air conditioning units outside are right by the master bedroom window and they're LOUD ... and all the ceramic tile we so carefully chose means that you can hear pretty much any noise in the house from any room -- and we know better now what we need in the physical layout of a home. But leaving this one will break my heart someday. This is the first place I ever lived away from my parents. This is where I was married -- right here in front of the hearth, with a few family members and close friends in attendance, smiling through tears at the culmination of years of patience and love and faith and hard, hard work together. This is where I spent my pregnancy with boy, where I had a home office I worked diligently from at a career I enjoyed and at which I had grown skilled, where I brought my son from the hospital. Someday soon (too, too soon), this is where boy will take his first steps, utter his first words. Maybe the Tooth Fairy will visit him here for the first time. I think of leaving this place and it's as if I am contemplating removing one of my limbs -- it's such a part of me, of us, of my little family. 

And yet, I know that wherever my favorite man and boy are, that will be my home, surely. I know that wherever we make our address, we will worship God there together, and He will protect us, and we will trust in that protection and feel grateful for His myriad blessings. So when someday comes, I'll be ready. 

I'm just glad it's not today.


SUBHADIP said...
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golriz said...

this is the most beautiful thing i've read in a long time.