This week, we moved out of our house on Philadelphia Avenue and into a new house. This wasn’t just any house we left. This was the house where I was able to start over. I purchased it on my own a year after my marriage ended. I knew I had to find a good house so that my kids would be safe and that my ex wouldn’t be able to start a custody battle for them. My heart needed a good house too. I was paying over a grand a month at an apartment, so it seemed smarter to buy a house. And my ex was already buying a home with his new soon-to-be wife. I still remember the humiliation I felt when I was trying to get approved for a mortgage. Because I was a stay-at-home mom for five years, the bank wouldn’t count my ex’s income as mine. According to their paperwork, I was unemployed for five years. My cheeks burned with shame. My ex could get a new car, a new house, with no trouble, but I couldn’t because we’d decided that I stay home with the kids. I remember shaking and crying that night and I thought: “How do women do it? How do they start over?” My answer in the quiet was a very loud: “They just DO.” So I did. I had a good job and narration gigs. And I pushed. I was fierce. I was tenacious. And the assistant to the president of the college where I worked, very kindly penned a brilliantly worded letter that stated that I would be employed for the foreseeable future. And the bank, eventually, gave me a mortgage.
And I got the house. On my own. For me, and my kids.
The day I got the keys, I walked in and looked around at the vast emptiness of the house on Philadelphia. But I didn’t SEE emptiness, I saw potential. I saw hope. I saw safety.
And for six years, that house became a home to me and my kids, and then my dear Kealoha. And we all grew together and laughed, and fought, and healed. Because that is what you do in a good house that is a home. You grow, together.
Still, it was my house. And I wanted something that would continue to grow with us, all of us, as a family. So we sold the house on Philadelphia and we’ve moved to a new house that we will make ours. I didn’t have to fight for this one. It just happened. And it felt like after a very long time of running, that I can finally stop. Be still. And breathe.
On the last day in the house on Philadelphia, my son ran from room to room, thanking it. I laughed at first, but then I started to cry a little. “Thank you living room! This is where we all hung out and had Christmas.” Runrunrun “Thank you kitchen! This is where mom cooked great food and only burned things sometimes.” Runrunrun “Thank you dining room. This is where we ate lots of good food and had family dinners most of the time even on days I didn’t want to but I liked it anyway.” Runrunrun “Thank you basement! Thank you bedroom! Thank you back yard!”
Later, alone again in the empty house, I breathed my own words of thanks. I didn’t need to say them out loud. I just felt it. With every beat of my strong, fierce heart.