This Place

In the distance, I can hear a train chug down the tracks on the levee, and smile, half-asleep, at the familiar sound. It brings back memories of a creaking desktop fan desperately trying to deliver cool air in a too-muggy, barely insulated, one-bed-one-bath apartment. Of an orange streetlight flickering just outside our window, shadows dancing as that same passing train shook our bedroom. I remember how we bought and then promptly re-sold secondhand furniture off of Craigslist, dismayed at how little could fit in less than 500 square feet.

When we finally found a table with sides that could collapse to fit in the nook outside our galley kitchen; we stayed up three long nights to sand and re-stain it into a thing of beauty. Our first dining room table, the first project we undertook as a married couple, stands in a comparatively cavernous dining room now, small and almost defiant set against its surroundings, turning a deaf ear to well-meaning family members who have tried (and failed) to convince us to “upgrade” to a larger piece of furniture—something to fill the space.

There are plans for this house. Big plans, small plans, weekend plans and years-long plans. They change a little each day we live in and get to know this place. More often than not, we see things we’d like to change, but the things we plan on keeping surprise us.

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Our cat, Nora, didn’t hide under the bed and stay there for a full 24 hours like the last time we moved. The moment we let her out of her carrier, she started pawing at the bedroom door, begging to be let out. She has investigated each nook and cranny in this old house, napped in every sunbeam from every window, and managed to squeeze herself in a hole underneath the kitchen cabinets. (A can of wet foot coaxed her out, and a spare piece of wood blocked the entrance so she couldn’t do it again.)

She seems to know that this place is home, and not just any home—but, as far as we can tell, our “forever” home. I know that I certainly loved this place long before I even stepped across the threshold. Loved it still, even when our realtor told us to consider other options. Pined for it, when we came this close to purchasing a different, more expensive home in a nearby neighborhood. Caleb was skeptical about this house, but after living in it for a few months, we’ve met more neighbors than we did while living in Baker for two years. We’re a two-minute walk from some of our closest friends. The neighborhood is quiet, friendly, and tight-knit. Over and over again we’ve looked around us and mused about our luck in finding this place, how happy we are to finally be back in Beauregard Town.

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This place is one that’s brought the frenzied planning and unpacking to its knees, and replaced it with something more intentional. It’s a place where I have to plan which room I’m going to update or deep clean or re-paint first, following the light as it floods into every corner, as I remove nailed-in exterior shutters one-by-one.

It’s a place that forced us, by necessity, to throw each shutter wide open (we didn’t have any light fixtures in most of the house for the first two months we lived here.) It’s taught us which creaky floorboards to sidestep. It’s a place where we’ve been learning, through daily, small annoyances, how to wait, to prioritize which project comes first, and that cheap painter’s tape is practically useless.

(Buy the expensive painter’s tape, y’all. It’s worth it.)

It’s a place where we’re forced to be mindful, grateful, and to stay hopeful.

It’s home.