Step one. Breathe in.
Step two. Breathe out.
In a little over a week the house we are planning to live out the rest of our lives in will be rolling down the highway and turning on the pink road to find its way to the ranch…
When I see that in writing that sounds a little more redneck than magical, but hey, that’s how it’s happening.
Anyway, we’ve been preparing for this, like really preparing for this for a good year. It’s been almost exactly a year since we sold our renovation home in Dickinson and since then we have been researching, talking, planning, making calls, comparing notes and crunching numbers to see if we could make that little dream we had brewing up in our heads to come out right on paper. We had discussions about where to put the thing, what we might need to take down, how big a hole we should dig, how many windows to put in, what color our floors might be, where we need a toilet, where we need a light fixture, where we need an outlet and a door and a piece of carpet.
These are small decisions that all pile up into one big one. A big one that changes what road we drive out of in the morning and come down in the evening for as long as we are able, where we put our Christmas tree, where we sit to watch the sunrise and drink margaritas, the way the couch faces when we snuggle down to watch John Wayne movies in the evening, where we keep the silverware and coffee cups and good dishes…where we might one day tuck our children in at night.
Husband and I have been dreaming about the day we hang the “Home Sweet Home” sign on the door of our forever home since we decided we loved one another enough to talk about a future together. We knew where we wanted to be and a little of what it looked like and then lo and behold the road to get here just happened to be filled with a little less bends and bumps than expected and we are blessed.
And I am nervous.
I don’t know why.
See, this house, my grandmother’s house, has always been a safe haven for me. It is where I came with my cousins to celebrate Christmas and get stuck in the gumbo hills looking for Easter eggs in the spring. It’s where we slept in bunk beds, dreaming big dreams and learning that Santa Clause doesn’t exist.
It’s where I came with my pops to live with my gramma when we moved back to the ranch when I was seven years old. It’s where I ate my grandmother’s kettle popped popcorn on New Year’s Eve while my parents were out. It’s where we sat on the porch and slurped on popsicles from the Schwan’s man as the hot summer sun beat down on the clay hills around us.
It was where my other grandparents moved in when my grandmother died to keep it a home, to love it and fill it with the smell of cooking…to keep the lights on.
It was my first h0me as a married woman, the threshold my new husband carried me over. It’s where we had our first Christmas tree as Mr. and Mrs., cut from the pastures that surrounded us. Where we brought home our new puppy, where we hosted our first Thanksgiving together for family, where I slept as husband fumbled around in the dark of the early mornings getting ready for work, careful not to wake me.
It’s what we saw in our rear view mirror, through tears in my eyes, as we decided on a new adventure…and where we settled a few years later when we discovered our biggest adventure yet would be here, where I learned to make homemade chokecherry jelly and along the way we found ourselves.
So this evening I am sitting in husband’s big leather chair while he makes some sketches, tallies some numbers, makes some phone calls and puts together a schedule of preparation for the next few days. He needs to build some walls, he needs to call the septic guy, I need to call the bank and the insurance company and we need to unload that giant trailer loaded with 2x8s and windows and screws and house wrap.
We have so much to do to prepare. There isn’t time to think about the memories that we will be leaving in this little house that will sit forever over the hill from us as we cook our meals under a new roof…one that holds more than one bedroom and a closet bigger than a shoebox. But in all the excitement I feel for our new big deck, stair case, hardwood floors and spacious kitchen cabinets, I can’t help but feel a little twinge of loneliness for a life I found bumping into one another in the little bathroom while brushing our teeth, the negotiating skills I acquired compromising closet space, the belly laughs and snorts that came flying out of my lungs while sitting close to family and friends around this kitchen table, the way the house heats up when the oven is turned on or how I can vacuum every carpet in the house without switching outlets.
Yes, it’s a little twinge of loneliness for a good life led cradled in the arms of my grandmother’s house, a little bit of nerves from a woman who has lived in close quarters with the people she’s loved all her life…and a little uncertainty about what will happen when I can’t lay under the covers of my bed in the bedroom and hold conversation with husband making noodles in the kitchen.
Do you drift apart when you have the option of living out your lives in separate rooms? Will we lose our connection when we no longer bump into each other while cooking casserole together in the kitchen? What will we talk about if it isn’t that we need to downsize on our boot collection or get a better place for our coveralls?
In our new house, will we still brush our teeth together in the same bathroom? Will we choose to stay in the same room and watch the other’s TV program, complaining the entire time, but glad to be close? Will we still trip over our boots? Will everyone gather in the kitchen on the holidays, no matter the option of another room and a basement?
Because I want more space, yes. I need more walls to hang photos of the people we love, more shelves to hold books, more room for my shoes. I’m not worried about filling up our new home with stuff, but what I want more than three bathrooms and a garage for husband’s tools is to be able to fill our new home with as much warmth, comfort, hugs, laughter, family, friends, love and memories that have always surrounded me in this little house in the buttes next to the red barn.
I hope we can do it.
I hope we do.
Yay! I am so excited for you Jess. And you will stay close… secretly Chad loves all those girly shows.
Beautiful. Good luck. Your pictures are absolutely breathtaking, especially the one with the moon.
As always, nice to hear how u got to the ranch so many years ago. It’s about this time of the year, I think of the lil farmstead we lived on until I was in 4th grade..what fun my brother, myself and sis had in that house and outside. My brother had to be the king. Until next time. May your holiday season be a lil chaotic. Nicole.
Jessie and Chad you can do it and each day will bring more joy and happiness to you both. Take a deep breath and be on your way to a great big new adventure.
Big house or small house….home is where the heart is……enjoy the new diggs. Rich
Wow, you sure had me choked up with this post! You have such a way with words that they draw the reader right in so that they see what you are seeing and feel what you are feeling. You brought back memories for me of my childhood home that I hadn’t thought of in a long time. You seem like such a loving person that I know you will be just as happy if not happier in your new home. You will make new memories, but your old memories will still hold a special place in your heart! Your photos complimented your words perfectly, and I especially loved the one of the cowboy hat hanging on the chair with the worn old table in the background. Just beautiful!! Good luck!
One never replaces another. I have an emotional affinity for smaller homes, but a logical appreciation for space. This was an endearing love letter to a special place, thank you for sharing.
Oh, I so relate to this. Perhaps install a big ol claw-footed bath tub so you two will always have a meeting place, hehe 🙂
You can and will do it simply by being who you are!
Meant to say, “King on the Hill.”
Three bathrooms? Get out a truckload of Lysol. I am happy for you both and having your own place makes it your castle. Although the memories will linger, keep the old house for when Wade comes up, or some other relatives–or start a small dude ranch.
thank you for sharing this post, I love all the snaps all are taken beautifully.
Your words and photos always touch our hearts … and today, reading about your grandparents and keeping the light on, well, you REALLY touched our hearts! thank you, thank you for sharing so much of your family with us. we wish you much joy & prosperity in your new home.