May 2016 Parting Thoughts 1

Are we home? Yes.

A year ago, my company offered me a promotion—a showcase account, more money, opportunity to grow.  The position was in Washington, which meant moving from Boise, where we’d lived for 30 years.

My wife and I visited the new place on a sunny glass-clear March day.  The job looked challenging, but in a good way.  We questioned everything else—about finding a house and career opportunities for my wife.  And: where is a brilliant but socially awkward veterinarian, a reliable dry cleaner, a decent thin-crust pizza place, an esoteric Asian market? Where will we find friends?

We said yes. A two-year commitment. But knowingly, we said, we would wait to buy.  We’d rent out our house in Boise.

That meant we said yes to painting the outside, yes we should take down the ramshackle patio cover, and yes, of course, we should paint the patio itself.  Yes we needed a new water heater, yes new raingutters, yes we should fix the lawn, get a new mailbox, redo the bathroom from shower tile to new vintage buttercup toilet.  Yes to all.  No to the garden this year—we could be gone by the end of May.

This was not technically our first house, but it was the first we had bought, the first place we lived together that really counted. The house was built in 1953, decked with oddities like louvered windows and faux wood paneling everyone told us would be easy to rip out, which we instead painted bright orange.

In the backyard, hammock-distance ash trees, and two towering blue spruces.  In the front, a lamppost under a massive elm, whose hands stretch out over our roof and nearly across the street. It needed love, and we had never had the time or money to do it.

Suddenly now, every weekend, we worked on the house.  (No two people in love should refinish their kitchen cabinets, especially with a deadline.)  Freshly painted white, and with the front door painted the tangerine color we’d discovered under the doorknob, and with the white brick planter now full of greenery, the house glowed happiness.  Getting it ready for someone else—who might think mean thoughts about its quirks—felt strange.  It was becoming the house we’d envisioned, the house we wished we could find in Washington.

The timeline for moving kept shifting, and the contract for the new business was in doubt.  At the end of the night on her best friend’s wedding, where it felt like we were saying goodbye to not just friends but Idaho as a whole, I asked my wife if she was happy about going to Washington.

“Well, I’m not happy,” she said, a little weepy.  “But it’s what we have to do.”

I told her we could say no.  And so we did.  While backing out of the move was a little difficult, the decision was easy.

Washington is pretty.  But we already have a home.