Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Someday

One year ago we moved out of the ghetto, Bladensburg, and back to the good side of town, Gaithersburg. Actually it was exactly one year, one month and one day ago. (Yes, I’ve been drafting various pieces of this post for a long time.) That move meant much more for our family than a change of address. I’m still unquestionably grateful and happy about our move into The Dream Townhouse.

From this:

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Sketchy.

To this:

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Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

From this:

DSC_0163 The guest room which was also the front room which was also the family room which was also the living room which was also the office which was also the playroom. On this particular day it was also the staging room during the move. I do not miss those broken blinds.

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Our 2nd guest room. Yeah, if we had more than 2 guests, the 3rd slept in our closet. On the floor. How is that flag shirt still in existence?

To this:

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It’s still an Aerobed, but now you get an entire basement to yourself.

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You also get your own bathroom. (We have FOUR of them.) When Max decides to share it.

From this:

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Max had no bedroom. He had the hallway.

To this:

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From this:

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Our play space: a metal door and patch of filthy carpet.

To this:

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Multiple areas to play and create. Ignore Anderson’s colorful outfit. He’s into dressing himself and some days I just go with it.

From this:

DSC_0055 Coffee table was the only place to climb.

To this:

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5 sets of stairs that fit hoards of cousins and plants.

DSC_0027 An entirely empty room. Perfect for racing and playing.

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Or painting.

You get the idea. We’ve stepped up. Pretty sure when Beyonce wrote “Upgrade U” she was singing about us.

Did I mention we have four bathrooms? (We came from ONE.) Sometimes Anderson forgets and relieves himself in the front yard. Guess you can take the family out of the ghetto, but… Yeah.

IMAG0019Let the record show, I was not home when this happened.

We have a hundred small things we’ve never had before that make the big difference.

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A fireplace.

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A laundry room! A washer/dryer! A washer-dryer IN a laundry room! I used to walk down four flights of stairs and slide quarters into a machine EVERY WEEK. I still can’t get over this luxury. I think about it every time I do laundry (and that’s a lot). Turns out this picture, from Easter, is the only one I have of this room. Anderson’s basket was hiding in the dryer, because guess what, The Bunny is lovin’ our W/D too. More pictures will come as this is the next room I’m organizing. Speaking of organizing…

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Pantry, closets, display walls and storage. So much storage. And build-in shelving!

We have a backyard. A backyard, complete with a shed (more storage!) and a swing, that begs for besties and popsicles, ginourmous snowmen and hunts for eggs.

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We have a deck. A deck that came with a table and canopy and inherited a grill and a garden.

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We have a front yard. A front yard that inspires Harley to weed wack AND be WT about it.

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We have to do townhouse responsibility things. Like clear our gutters of leaves. Can you spot Harley’s head way up on top? I watched him, that fall day last year, as he scaled our house and dangled from the roof. Then I took pictures and mentally prepared myself to raise two children alone.

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We’ve also got two playgrounds, one park and two pools within walking distance. And we have a ceiling fan. I love ceiling fans!

I’m doing things I never had space to do, like host preschool.

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Last week we colored cards and crafted caterpillars and charted and counted and climbed and crawled and got cold and made cotton ball clouds! We ate carrots and cucumbers. We covered crowns and collected cars and contemplated the calendar. We crouched and cheered and clapped and cha-cha-ed to “C is for Cookie.” Any guess what our letter was? I LOVE the letter C! So many fun options!

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When we used to entertain it looked like this:

DSC_0090Standing room only at our humble gathering after Max’s baby blessing.

Now it looks like this:

DSC_0026 Still not gobs of seating but oh what an improvement!

We threw together a little General Conference brunch and viewing party, just last weekend. This was my favorite.

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Yet another use of our empty room. Perfect projection wall.

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A year ago we were dealing with mice during the day and listening to gunshots at night. Our sleep was interrupted regularly by our neighbors’ pounding base, disturbing arguments, puppy training, and worse. Our town’s crime stats were more than frightening. People thought I was dramatic (me? never!) when I’d say we lived in the ghetto. Then they’d visit. Then they’d agree. For those who never had the pleasure of seeing us in da ‘hood, here it is.

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I took these pictures two years ago. Anderson and I would go on a daily walk around the neighborhood and this is what we would see. There were a few sidewalks but usually we were strollin’ on the street. I actually drafted a blog post about our ‘hood back in the day but got paranoid somehow a neighbor would find it. I didn’t want to make any enemies, so I let this post sit. For two years.

DSC_0034-2 DSC_0039-2 DSC_0042-2 DSC_0048-2 DSC_0052-2 In all fairness, not once were we victims of any crime. We kept our car clubbed, our doors locked and tried to avoid going out at night. Harley carried around a fake wallet full of fake cards. His real wallet, constructed of duct tape, held real cards. The fake was his big plan in case he got mugged. The neighbors were mostly nice to us. Everyone knew us, probably because we stood out as the only white people in the area. They kept me informed on which corners the prostitutes worked and which houses sold drugs. Cops were always parked on our street. I was never sure whether this should make me feel safe because they are present or nervous because they needed to be.

DSC_0046-2DSC_0055-2 DSC_0057-2 DSC_0059-2 DSC_0062-2 Harley’s brand new bike was stolen right after we moved in. Maybe it ended up here. Oh yeah, so we were victims of one crime. Oh, and someone stole our doormat. Two crimes.

DSC_0029 Bladensburg Annual “Night Out” Party

Harley and I used to play the “Someday” game. You state that thing you really want in life. You preface it with “Someday…” and follow it with a sigh and a hopeful smile. Someday we won’t lug groceries up three flights of stairs. Someday we won’t sleep to a soundtrack of crime. Someday we’ll have a playroom, a yard, a deck and a pantry. Someday we’ll feel safe at night. Someday we’ll have a master bathroom. Someday our baby won’t sleep in a hallway. Someday we'll have a basement. Someday our front door will open to the outside, not a stairway.

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Now I see this when I open my front door.

Someday we won’t worry about hammering after 7pm or walking too loudly. Someday guests won’t sleep in our living room/office/front room. Someday we’ll have storage and space. Someday we’ll be in a strong ward. Little did we know, our ward back then was one month away from being dissolved.

Then came the chance to move. We jumped at it. It was incredibly challenging to find The Dream Townhouse. Five times we were thisclose, only to have everything fall apart. Twice we spotted red flags and bailed. Three times we were rejected. Our backgrounds, bank accounts, and references were meticulously scrutinized. Who knew it was so hard just to rent? In the end it was worth it. We found it, signed a lease, packed and moved in 3 1/2 days, which was 2 days after we were supposed to move. Bless The Dream Townhouse and the miraculous path that led us to it.

I will never forget those first few days in The Dream Townhouse. I missed calls because my cell phone was on another floor and I couldn’t hear it. For the first time in my mommyhood, I actually needed a baby monitor. Anderson, who was used to having the length of a coffee table to roll cars and play, ran laps around the dining room, kitchen and living room. Harley came home one day, and I had no idea because I couldn’t hear him. When I wrote down our new address on paperwork, I left that “apartment” section blank. Anderson shadowed me all day because it made him nervous if he couldn’t see or hear me at all times. In seven years we’d never had more than a two-bedroom apartment. The 3-level Dream Townhouse felt like a mansion.

I woke up in our new master bedroom the morning after we moved. I rolled over and saw light pouring through our big window. I was overwhelmed.

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We have the most beautiful view! Trees, green, forest as far as you can see. Right there. In our backyard! I just stared out the window and I had this moment. You know the kind. The remember this forever experience, the “Aha!” Oprah moment, the stop you in your tracks epiphany. The kind you always think back on.

I realized our Someday was here.

Funny how that Someday works. In hindsight, it’s arrival didn’t take as long or seem as hard to get as I thought it would. Someday kind of snuck up on me. But it had arrived. Or we had arrived to it. It and everything about it made me oh so happy and grateful. Safety, storage, space, ceiling fan. So happy. Wanting it for seven years. So grateful. I’m glad we wanted and wished and, in some ways, struggled for so long. It makes me appreciate living in Someday so much more. In fact, I appreciate it so much, I’m still talking about it a year later. (Clearly.)

I spent that first morning on our back swing with my mother-in-law. The one who flew out just to help us move and, with my sister-in-law, deep cleaned my entire ghetto apartment without me. I told her we’d just moved into our Someday. She told me I would never regret the decision to rent The Dream Townhouse. I sat, swinging, and looked at the lush green forest behind our fence and held my baby and watched my toddler bang sticks and I knew she was right. And she was.

Our townhouse is far from perfect. We have no garage. No grass. We have no real “yard” if you want to get technical. Our kitchen is small and our appliances are old. The water pressure is a strong trickle resulting in long unsatisfying showers. Our monthly rent is more than we paid for an entire semester of college education. We share walls with neighbors. The beautiful forest plagues us with garbage attacking raccoons. It’s about six miles further from Harley’s lab than he and his bike would like. But right now, it’s perfect for us. We still play the “Someday” game. Someday (hopefully soon) we’ll have a dining room table and readily kiss our big empty room goodbye. Someday we’ll actually OWN a home. Imagine! Someday Harley will graduate and have a real full-time job. Someday we’ll lay down roots somewhere and stay longer than two years. Someday we’ll have two cars. Someday we won't have student loans. Someday we’ll have side yards in addition to a real front and back yard. Someday, someday, someday. Sigh, hopeful smile. We will always play Someday. But for now, we gratefully recognize that some of Someday is right here today. It’s much more than we’ve ever had. That makes us feel like we’re living the dream, baby! And for that, we’re still so thankful to call this place home. A year, a month and a day later.

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More of The Dream Townhouse: Tour de Jour: Basement, Tour de Jour: Master Bedroom, Tour de Jour: Travel Wall, Tour de Jour: Anderson’s Big Boy Room, Tour de Jour: Max’s Nursery