She’s a beauty, isn’t she? I’m referring to the house on the right side of the page, of course.
This lovely structure was my home for approximately 5 months during 1994. I had left my husband 2 years prior to this, and after living in a basement apartment (‘The House Next Door’), and a cute little duplex in town, I got a wild hair and thought it might be fun to live in the country. I’d spent the past 2 years getting to know Joy for the first time–who she was, what she liked and didn’t like, what she believed or didn’t believe, and I decided Joy was ripe for change.
Word of mouth informed me there was a vacant house 12 miles out-of-town in the country that the owner might possibly be willing to rent… I checked it out, and it was in rough condition — looking much the same then as it does in the above photo (taken this past June). No matter, this was an adventure, and at this point in my life, I liked to throw caution to the wind.
The owner proposed that I could live here rent free and all I had to pay for was the electricity, propane and water. Now that was a bargain I couldn’t pass up! Just one catch… I had to first clean up the inside so it was habitable for a human.
Upon entering the house, I was met by the fragrance of mice, a living room filled with debris, and in the basement, spiders old enough to draw Social Security. This was going to be fun! And here’s the thing… this clean up–this ‘house crash’ if you will, this diversion from my 2 year miserable divorce journey, was just what I needed. Just as a wise lady recently told me, “I didn’t know it, but this was my healing time…” How is it those healing times occur without us realizing it? They’re usually characterized by episodes of being alone during which you ask a lot of questions and (sometimes) receive an answer. I’d say it’s God’s way of sneaking in some love behind our back.
From June through the end of July, after a day’s work and on time off, I removed trash, swept, vacuumed, scrubbed, painted, patched, stained wood floors, and dreamed. I sent rabbit skulls rattling across the back porch, hacked down two-foot high weeds in the yard, dumped mice droppings out of kitchen drawers, and using a hacksaw, cut the rusted/crusted bolts so I could remove a well-used toilet seat from a questionable toilet. This was heaven! I was in my element… no one was watching me as I worked, no one around except some languid, slobbering, staring cows in the corrals next to the house. I happily absorbed the balm of peace and quiet, as I practically thrive on the sounds of silence. If you throw in a little essence of rustling leaves, and tweak it a tad with the call of a crow overhead, then I figure life’s just near to perfection.
After the Big Clean-Up, and with a bit of help, I moved several car loads of belongings from my in-town duplex. At last, I was standing at the threshold of my country home. I had dreams, big dreams! I envisioned this as my refuge, my solace, my For Awhile Home. I hadn’t had a real house for nearly two years, and this place was for all practical purposes, mine. I had grand plans to scrape and paint the outside of the house, landscape the yard, and set out bird feeders, and perhaps get a dog. I designated one of the two bedrooms as a place my children could sleep if they visited. I thought of the approaching fall and winter when I would be all cozy and warm while looking out my living room window on a snow scene of birds and deer feeding in the cornstalks, but mostly, I just enjoyed the solitude of being alone in a secluded location. I turned up my music as loud as I wanted–the cows didn’t care. I sat outside on the porch in my pyjamas, drank my coffee, and thought about the past seventeen years of marriage, the past two years of loneliness. Now, the future seemed wide open with all sorts of possibilities. I was still young then, you know, young enough that I still had time to start over and actually had the luxury of having years ahead of me. I wonder, when is that ‘tipping point’ of having climbed the hill of aging, that one starts down the other side? At what point do your ‘going to do’s’ and your ‘looking forward to’s’ appear in a rear-view mirror, unaccomplished? And do you even care? I think those are the times we assess whether those ‘big plans’ were really that important.
All too soon, I moved away from my country house. Swept off my feet, I left behind those plans of flower beds and remodeling projects. When I informed the owner, he said, “You change your mind more often than the weather!” Oh well, it has been said that “indecision is the key to flexibility.”
My ‘Healing Home’ was an adventure. When I think back, I see it as one of those achingly sweet spots in time. I had finally reached a point where I was at peace with myself, content with who I turned out to be. Perhaps, failure is highly underrated…without it, how could we move forward to something better? It was a small patch in time that was necessary to make up the whole of my life that is still ‘under construction’. There is more to come, but I don’t know how much more until I wake up and find myself absent from my ‘For Awhile Home’ and present in my everlasting home. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14: vs 2 & 3.