It’s that time of year where all I want to do is open the windows wide, wide. And catch light in stray corners of the house, under the kitchen table, in my son’s eyes. He smells of sunscreen, permanently.
These wooden floors creak and I love that they have their own voice.
We’ve been here since June.
This new house I’ve prayed, temper tantrum-med, whined and hoped for every summer for five years.
It’s still a rental house. I’ll be 39 this month and we’ve still never owned a home.
It’s taken me five years to be able to say that out loud without feeling somehow ashamed. Ashamed for not being a proper grown up or something. But I’m over it now.
That’s only one of many lessons our too small, too old, too crowded, only-one-bathroom-for-five-people rental taught me.
When we first moved to Virginia that small, rental house was just a short term plan. But every summer when it came time to move we couldn’t yet. And we’d promise ourselves just one more year of saving and paying down debt and then next June would be our June to move.
I would cry.
I would get really angry at my husband.
And eventually I would accept the unacceptable and try to figure out new ways to arrange the couches in a living room that didn’t lend itself to easy configuration. Or room for more than five people at a time.
Five years of waiting.
I wrote a lot about that house. I believe there are lessons I learned still cemented between the bricks of that home. Even the faux ones that were constantly falling off the kitchen walls. Curiously I mostly wrote about it as a series of guest posts for other blogger friends. I think this had something to do with the shame factor. How sharing about that house embarrassed me to put on my own blog.
The thing is, I moved into that house feeling entitled to something better.
And I moved out of it five years later in a hot June feeling like everything was a gift.
Especially this new house.
We’ve only transplanted just a few blocks away. This is a gift.
We found a home – the only one after months of looking – that fit our budget and was still in the same school district and neighborhood but with more room to breathe. This is a gift.
It’s still a rental, but it feels like our home. This is a gift.
We invited everyone we’ve come to know in the neighborhood to come and celebrate with us and they all turned up. Despite the 104 degree weather. That was the best gift.
The friends who’d eaten on their laps on our sofas at the old house where there was never enough room. Friends who’d folded baby clothes when Zoe was born, helped us get rid of a fruit fly infestation, brought over their kids to dig and run wild in our embarrassment of a back yard.
Friends who taught us that hospitality is about opening the door, not about how fancy the furniture, decor or dishes.
I have learned through and through and down past my hips and all the way into my bones that big hospitality has nothing to do with the size of your house.
And that there will always be a choice:
Panic or delight.
Fear of appearances or fully opening your arms to your friends.
Picking up the backyard or inviting the boys to join the well-loved chaos.
Stressing the stains or surrounding yourself with toys, kids, and enough time to catch up.
Frantically planning something to cook or ordering pizza and slicing a watermelon.
Waiting is never wasted.
Just ask pregnant women. Or farmers. Or kids on Christmas eve.
Waiting is sometimes the gift. Because it helps pry our eyes open to what is.
He is never late. And I’ve learned He is rarely early.
But He is always, yes I believe this, He is always on time.