Deciding what to have for supper is often overwhelming to me, so it does not surprise me that I have struggled with a much bigger decision over the last year.
In February of 2002, Shaun and I had just gotten engaged; he was a director of a local evening news broadcast, and I had had a very good year teaching in Crookston. The next logical step was to find a house together, where we could have a dog, and a garden, and eventually raise our babies. At 29, I’d never made such a tremendous decision before, but I was young and in love and it felt like the beginning of the rest of our lives.
We looked at nearly a dozen houses before we found this one: in our budget, with four bedrooms, two and a half baths, and a large, lovely, fenced in back yard. We closed on it on 28 February, and spent the next month moving boxes and furniture from our Fargo apartment over to our new Moorhead mansion.
So many people came to help us that March: dear friends recruited to tote boxes and sofas. Aunt Shirley and Jonathan came and helped me tear out 700 pounds of carpet. Myra, Jess, and Bev D. came and painted furniture, cleaned and unpacked boxes. Shaun’s parents helped move furniture and stock our pantry, and Carla, the queen of paint, did all 4 downstairs rooms for us, with a little fumbly help from me. We brought Dad to visit by driving the nursing home van up on the front lawn and bringing the lift down on the top of our front steps, and he wheeled himself in like he owned the place. When he took a little chunk of the doorway to the kitchen out with a corner of his chair, Myra scolded him to be careful, but I was happy he could come leave his mark with us. He checked the window locks and water pressure and deemed it acceptable.
That June, Shaun and I got married in the backyard, with only 6 days of planning. Our immediate families came, and Jess sang, and Beth and Steve read, and both our mothers cried, and it was a gorgeous, perfect day.
This is the house to which we brought V home. Where she learned to sleep through the night, and sing, and walk, and say whole sentences. We hosted almost a dozen Thanksgiving dinners here, and so many birthdays.This house held a lot of joy.
Since 2014, when Mom up and died on us, though, my heart has been torn into pieces. The first six months, I could barely breathe. And then Shaun moved out as our marriage ended, and I found myself in a frightening, tunnel-like place of trying to keep my emotional head above water, maintain a semblance of sanity while teaching and parenting. It was exhausting, like living in the thickest fog you’ve ever seen.
This summer, as the fog is finally, finally starting to lift, I find the house doesn’t fit my life anymore. I chose this place as a spot to grow old with my love; to raise our babies and welcome our grandbabies. Now, though, as V and I rattle around in this 4 bedroom house with our two little dogs and far too much crafting materials, I feel disconnected. This space doesn’t serve us anymore, though it’s not the house’s fault, of course. Our family has morphed into something different. Glorious and hilarious and ornery, still, but different.
V and I have decided to move. We found a lovely family who wants to buy our house (to fix it up and resell it, so we don’t have to…so if you want this house, you’ll get another chance in a few months), and found ourselves a sweet little two bedroom rambler. The yard is smaller, the house is smaller, and there are no trains, where we’re going.
I’ll stay at the college where my colleagues are my second family, where my students inspire, terrify, and irritate me every single day. This move will triple my commute time, from 10 minutes to 30. V will start fifth grade in a new school, where instead of 200 5th graders, there are only 24.
We’re going back to Hendrum. I feel a little like a cliche: I mean, we could go anywhere, V and I. But right now, I want to go back to the town where both my parents were born, where I grew up and where my sister and her family live. There are plants my mother nurtured that still grow there.
The air in Hendrum is sweeter than any air I’ve ever breathed. It’s not a perfect town, but it will be a good place for us, for me and my daughter and our little dogs. I hope you’ll come and visit us.
(And I also hope the six people I know who have pick up trucks will answer when I call them in the next month, because if you own a pick up truck and you’re not a farmer, you’re legally obligated to help your friends move, I’m pretty sure).
(Also, if I become super famous, I’m gonna have to give Hendrum a different name throughout the blog, because with just over 300 people, we won’t be able to hide there very well. I was thinking Chicken Timpani. Or Fowl Snare. Your thoughts?)