Welcome Home

I waved as Z got on the school bus that warm, April morning and watched as it meandered down the unfamiliar road for a moment.  It was 8:25 in the morning; what would I do all day until he returned around 4?

It was the week after Easter, us having moved during what was Spring Break at home, thinking that Z wouldn’t really miss too much school.  We had no idea that the break had already been taken much earlier in Oklahoma, where school started in mid August rather than our traditional Tuesday after Labor Day.  Z was nearing the end of his fourth grade year, and none too happy about our uprooting him at all from the home and town he’d lived in all of his life.  But he’d also looked forward to having a house of own, with a yard and a pool that belonged to only us, in a neighborhood clearly crawling with children.

I looked down the quiet street as I walked back to our house; it still felt funny to think that this was where we lived.  Everything felt foreign and different than the place where I’d come from.  Every house on the street was a ranch style home; there were no two story houses in our neighborhood; there were hardly any in the whole town.

It was warm this first week of April; I couldn’t wait to tell my sister that the forecast for today was 80 degrees and that I was wearing shorts.  Back home we’d still be wearing winter coats and sweaters unless we were enjoying that one, lucky unseasonably warm day that made Michiganders long for the warmth that May would bring.  But here, magnolia trees were in full bloom, the grass was bright green and lush; peonies filled baskets and planters on everyone’s front porches.

Even the grass was different here, I noted as I walked up our own driveway.  It was thicker somehow; it reminded me more of the grass my father had in his yard in Florida.  It must be a type that could withstand the heat in the summers.  Our neighbors, who had grown up in Oklahoma, informed me that it didn’t just hit 100 degrees in the summer here; 100 degrees was at times considered temperate compared to how hot it could get.  I cringed thinking of it.

I paused before finishing the walk up the driveway to our front door, admiring the house for a moment.  A two car garage dominated the facade; I couldn’t believe I could finally park my car in a garage; I’d never had one in all of the years I’d owned a car.  Next to that was the floor to ceiling dining room window, which overlooked the little flowerbed area next to the porch and front door.  I had big plans for the flowerbed, wanting to grow all manner of amazing Southern plants that wouldn’t tolerate the winters up North.  To the left of the front door was the guest bedroom window, with some holly bushes growing bright and green below.  It was pride I felt as I admired the view; this was our home.  I still could hardly believe it.

Once inside, I took my shoes off and looked around again, trying to envision the view as perhaps my sister or father or R’s parents would.  To the left was a hallway leading to three bedrooms; the guest bedroom, our office and Z’s bedroom in the back.  In front of me was the great room, with 10 foot ceilings and 9 foot windows that let in the light through the sheer curtains.  I could see the playset in the backyard through them.  Open to the great room was the kitchen, with its pickled oak cabinets.  To my right was the dining room, which was all open to the great room as well.  Beyond that was a laundry room that led to the garage, on the way to the master bedroom on the other side of the house.   Our bedroom had its own bathroom and a closet nearly as big as Z’s first bedroom back in Michigan.

It was a beautiful home.  I closed the front door behind me and took my shoes off on the cool ceramic tile.  It felt somehow decadent to be here, at home, while R was at work and Z was at school.  I should be at work too, teaching my students.  But I wasn’t.  I was here, in this beautiful house, on this warm day, trying to figure out what it all meant and where I would fit in all of it.

I had a feeling it might take me a while to figure that out.

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