The House That Built Me

I'm sitting on the cold terra cotta tile floor. My finger tracing grey squares of gritty grout. The sun's warmth opens all the white lilies that line the deck, not strong enough, even on the sultriest of days, to bring this floor to even a corpse-like temperature. Its cold seeps through my jeans now and I laugh through tears. Thinking of how many times I've cursed that cold tile. Sucking the life force out of my feet for the past five winters. And even so, how I remained barefoot most of the year.

This beautiful floor. The hardness of it is highlighted by our quiet echoed conversation. Its unwillingness to bend or comfort. It had a job to do and it didn't get caught up in softening a blow to a foot or to a head. It was unconcerned with offering warmth or pliability. 

It held this house together. And it kept us suspended and supported in this place.

This is the floor that my hot cheek laid on. Tears sinking into that grey grout. I watched them roll slowly - proving my suspicion that the foundation of this house was, in fact, not level. Watching the evidence that I was, indeed, supported on this earth. The coldness and hardness of it pushing back on my skin. Reminding me that I wouldn't sink to the center of the earth. Holding me up. Helping me feel real.

This house that built me. We sit on the floor for the last time, saying our goodbyes.

We moved into this house a newly single-mom and her little girl. Dolls. Bicycles. Baskets with flowers. Drawings of Mom and Dad loving each other. Books about how to help a child understand divorce.

We moved out of this house as a two women. A mother and a daughter. Journals. Music. Poetry. Laughter. And wide open hearts.

That is where I stood when she told me she wanted a new mom.

In this corner, our first Christmas tree.

In that tree, hung her swing.

In those rocks, you'll find hand-painted messages, left by little hands. Remnants of fairy houses. And cradles for cute bugs.

That is where I stood when I realized that all of the money was gone. It is the same silver mailbox that carried away every single dollar that was owed until all of the debt was paid. 

This is where I sat when I said those four goodbyes. This small space on the floor, measured by only five or six of the tiles. That is where my chair was. The chair that wrote two books. Revived my career. Paid off the debt. Healed my heart. And brought me to love. Allowed me to shed pieces of myself. Saying goodbye to old pain that wasn't serving me. To beliefs that no longer held truth. 

I moved into this house with unrelenting optimism. I believed that life was fair and good. I believed that I had hit a small bump in the road and that I would be rewarded quickly and easily for any little inconvenience that I had experienced.

And I was so wrong. Life isn't fair nor is it easy. And it isn't concerned with my inconvenience anymore than this butt-numbing tile.  

But life is beautiful. And even though it breaks your heart time and time again, it builds you stronger in the broken parts.

The simple beauty of an angle of grout. A silvery curve of a mailbox. The black worn doorknocker. The rough and crumpled bark of the oak tree. The sound of the bees in the lemon blossoms. The smell of jasmine in the sky. 

This is what life offers us. A beautiful spot to sit. To be supported for a moment while we take the whole thing in.

Saying thank you to this beautiful structure that housed our hearts and sheltered our souls. 

Call it home.

Or life.

It was ours for a while.