Last Wednesday I dragged the last of the unwanted items and garbage out of my house, swept and mopped the floors, left my collection of owner’s manuals and appliance warranties on the kitchen counter and walked out of the front door for the last time. Thursday morning I signed the papers and handed over the keys to the new owner. My house is no longer my house. Patrick asked me if I were sad, and my reply was not exactly–more nostalgic, that mixture of pleasure and sadness that comes from remembering something you can no longer experience. I loved my house not for the floor plan or yard or even the furnishings, although I thought it all worked well for me and my family. I loved it not for the location, even though it was awesome. My neighbors were all friendly and helpful. I really only loved my house for what it represented: the time in my life where I stood on my own and became a better me. I’m not sure how else to describe it except to say that sometime in the two years I lived there, I accepted my life for what it is in the moment. I quit worrying so much about past mistakes or future desires. I stopped caring quite so much what others expected of me and became more conscious about what I wanted for myself. My journey over the last couple of years there propelled me down a path I didn’t anticipate, but one that feels comfortable and right. I loved my house for that.
Which is also why I have no regrets at selling it. I had some people ask me if I were sure I didn’t just want to rent it out. Leave it for a backup plan. After all, some indicated, moving in with Patrick is a risk. I can see their point. It’s not like I don’t have failed relationships in my past. It’s not like those relationships didn’t cost me a lot. But love is always a risk. And for me, it’s always worth taking because the alternative offers nothing. In the end, love is the only thing we get to take with us.
After the house closing, I joked to Patrick that he was now stuck with me. He very sweetly replied, no…not stuck. After a long pause, he said it was more like trapped. Ah, yes…he does share my sarcastic sense of humor. And he has been a good sport about the take over of his once solitary house. For a guy who’s lived alone for the past ten years, he’s adapted well to having the five of us (me, my two girls, my dog and cat) invade his space, quietly carving out a room for himself in the basement yet rarely escaping to it. I love him for the way he’s expanded his world to invite me in. And I’m thankful for this new chapter in my life that includes him.
Usually I write these posts at the end of the day. It seems to make sense to me to wait until my day is over to realize what has really struck me. Sometimes I’m not even sure until I sit down at the computer. I just let the words come out honestly and take shape in front of me. Today I’m writing early because I’m headed out of town and I’m not sure what my internet connection status will be later. I figured, better safe than sorry. But I also know one thing I’m grateful for already today: taking chances.
It is so easy to play life safe. To sit on the sidelines and watch from the slight comfort of our fold up chair. How many parents do this with their children? Urge their kids to try out for sports or cheerleading or play the musical instrument they were too afraid to pick up when they were a kids themselves. Most of us–because it’s easier to live vicariously through someone else. I think that’s why Americans are obsessed with celebrities. They don’t seem to have the limits the rest of us do. With money and power and a staff of helpers, we would probably all become a bit more risk-takers. I imagine the fallout doesn’t seem as bad when you’re insulated. But how many things do we miss by not getting involved ourselves? Not getting into the nitty gritty dirty thing called life. Some of my friends have been surprised recently to learn about how much I’ve been doing on my own. Not just house stuff, but social things. If I don’t have a willing friend, I decided I’d just go out by myself. That’s what I’m doing today. Heading into Chicago for a concert.
I believe life isn’t about staying inside our own bubble wrap. It’s no fun in there. Sure, getting hurt sucks, physically and emotionally. And it’s usually the emotional hurts that scare us the most. Breaking bones can heal quicker than a broken heart or spirit. It takes immense trust and courage to hand over your heart to someone and ask them to take care of it. Especially when the last person stuck it in their pocket and forgot about it. Or shoved pins into it. Stepped on it. You get the idea. I’ve got quite a few bandages still wrapped around mine. But I’m willing to take a chance again because I personally think we are made for connections. Sometimes family is enough or a circle of friends is enough. Yet sometimes it isn’t and it’s time to cross our fingers and take off the insulation and jump into the messiness of life. Sure, it could end up badly. It could hurt again. But it also could turn out to be wonderful. After all, I’d rather take a risk and fall than spend my life standing on the edge, wondering what it feels like to fly.