House and Home
I couldn't help it. I had to drive by the house one last time before we moved.
Here is the yard, overgrown and shaggy with dandelions; here is the driveway and the crumbling brick path that twists to the stairs of the front porch. Here's the front porch with its railings wound in a poisonous, spiky vine. Here is the house itself; sentient cave, sadly gray and sagging after your wife moved out, and there was me, two months after she left, waiting for you to answer the doorbell, dizzy with love.
The inside of the house was just as impressively miserable as the outside, with the barest suggestion of furniture, spider webs flung in corners, laundry sitting in tidy land mines on the rug. You pointed out the progress you had made since your wife had left: the new faucet in the kitchen, a raw length of pine fence in the backyard.
I wrapped my arms around you and saw in my mind a house bright with paint and stuffed with soft couches, the lawn thick and green. I wished you would let me give you this home I had always dreamed of, had craved since my own divorce three years ago. I wanted to be happy. I wanted you to be happy.
I started with small things. I threw out piles of junk mail and containers of expired yogurt. I wiped off counters when you were in the bathroom. Later I would come over when you were at work and do laundry, scrub grout, replace light bulbs. You said you fell in love. I moved in.
I hired a landscaper so the two puppies we bought could chase squirrels unhindered. I painted. I bought a red couch on credit and sat with my coffee in the early morning sunlight that filtered through the new curtains, thinking of what I had to do next.
You fired the landscapers one day and the grass grew wild over the brick path and the front porch. You continued to collect spoiled food and credit card applications. The puppies dug a hole under the fence and ran under the wheels of the neighbor's Chevrolet.
Here is the spot in the backyard where I buried our puppies, and here was the place next to that pitiful mound that I cried for them and for my sorry, fallible wish for happiness. Here is the driveway again, where I loaded up my car and did the one thing that finally made my soft little dream come true.
And now here I am in front of the house a year later, sitting in my car, watching as your TV throws blue shadows in the street. My husband is calling me on my cell phone wondering where I am; the movers would come for us early tomorrow to take our furniture to the home where we would raise our family. But for now I ignore it, giving myself another minute to say goodbye, then another.