Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Endangered Metaphor

About the same time I started having oodles of I’m Pregnant Dreams a few years ago, I also had We’re Moving Dreams.  The houses in my dreams had lots and lots of extra space for lots of children, children’s toys, children’s nurseries, children’s clutter, and children’s run-around kinds of fun.  There were bathrooms (more than one—glorious!).  And secret rooms that opened into secret rooms for more space and more children.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve never taken the words “be fruitful and multiply” to mean that my two or three children were not plenty of apples in my basket. I’m perfectly contented right now with the size of my brood.  So, at the present time, the appealing factor in these dreams is the more space, not the more children.

But these dreams keep coming about moving, about rearranging spaces and making spaces—space so that I wouldn’t have to listen to Oldest and Middle argue every morning over whose blanket is in whose way and whose clothes are on the floor. And oh, what I would give for space for them to run around and dance and shout and hoot and holler, a space far enough from me in the house that I don’t have to listen/watch, where I can stay zen, where I can think quiet thoughts, whisper quiet prayers, chop vegetables in quiet and then, when I’m ready to dance and shout and holler myself, I can join them in that other place.

I’ve also pointed out to the husband that there are four females living in a house with one bathroom.  I give it two more years, tops, before this becomes a matter of national security.
Over the years, I have tried hard not to let my mind wander toward the idea of moving to a larger house. Much of the world lives in small spaces. Why can’t I?  The American model is start small, go big. Increase, increase, increase, until you’re an empty nester and all that increased-house size leaves some people feeling empty, lonely, wondering what it’s all for.  So I’ve resisted. If we could just make it through their teenage years, till they’re off to college--it’s only another decade till the first one goes. But I fear, if something doesn’t change, that I will lose my sanity before the decade is up.  My children need to run around and be loud.  I need to walk quietly and think in quiet.  This combination doesn’t bode well for harmonious living. Either I am the grinchy mom who’s spoiling all their fun, or they are my husband’s children from whom I need escape long before lunchtime.  
But moving is stressful.  That’s why I’m trying to stay so very zen about this whole process.  Maybe we’ll move ahead this year, maybe next.  Maybe we’ll wait till we have more equity in our home. Maybe we’ll sell our home quickly, by owner, or it’ll take forever. And maybe a home will open up in our girls’ school’s neighborhood that is just the perfect size, with just the right features, at just the right price and we’ll buy it before we even know what’s happening. 

And moving is stressful for children, as well as grown-ups. That’s why I’ve told Oldest I won’t mention it anymore until I know we’re serious about a change.  Right now, Moving is a thought, a dot, on the horizon we could be sailing toward.  Still, each day, I look around our Raven Street house more purposefully. I see the clutter that a realtor will someday tell me to remove. I am more bothered by a garbage disposal in the sink that broke last spring.  I am highly motivated to fix our garage door.  And today, during Tiny’s nap time, I spackled holes in our bedroom wall.
But there is one particular bit of nostalgia that makes the idea of moving difficult.  3106 Raven Street has not only been my home for the last ten years, but my metaphor for where life happens, where children are born and morph into beings with kaleidoscopic personalities, where marriages weave their threads into long epic narratives, where we learn how to love each other, where God is.  So now, my metaphor is endangered, and what does that mean for the groundedness such symbolism seems to provide me? 

What happened earlier this evening is almost too dramatically ironic, almost too ridiculously perfect to ever come to fruition, that I can hardly utter the words aloud:  I found a for-sale home in our neighborhood today. It’s the right size; it’s got the right features. It’s on a different street, with a different house number, which I almost didn’t notice when I drove up to 3105 Raven Court this evening and peered through the windows into an empty living room.

Possibly, God was laughing when I realized the home’s address—not because this is the house for us, necessarily, but because, truly, the power of the metaphor is what it points to.  And in that case, the joke is on me. Because--really—if we keep on living like we’re still learning, then every home we live in for the rest of our lives will be On Raven Street. And so will yours, if that’s where you want to live, too.

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