Ryan and I have been looking at houses. As retirement quickly approaches, he thinks there is a good chance he could finish his USAF career here in Little Rock. If that’s the case, then we would rather own a house than pay “rent” to the housing office on base. (I, however, am not convinced, and I think we still have one or two more PCS’s in our future, but I wouldn’t mind having space that is my own.) The last house we walked through yesterday had new granite countertops, two living areas, nice master bath; the house was beautiful. I was quietly staring out onto the deck – to the creek running through the yard beyond when Ryan came up behind me and whispered in my ear, “This house makes me sad.” I was surprised and asked why. He wrapped his arm around my shoulder and sighed, “I walk through and look at the pictures. I see the dad holding a baby, then I see the little girl grow up. Next, he’s walking her down the isle, and then he is holding her baby – he’s an old man. They are selling this house because their kids are gone. It’s sad.”
It is unlike Ryan to be sentimental (except with his damn car), and his words stuck with me. That house was the 27th house we’ve walked through and the only one that made him feel that way. I’m not sure what made that house different, and as we drove away Ryan commented that every house has a story, but not one so obvious. Maybe that’s why we are looking to buy a house – we want a book in which to write our story. Our story is currently told on torn pages from five different houses, four different bases, two different countries. The pages are scattered about and in boxes. One of the benefits (disadvantages?) of moving every few years is that I keep my walls current. Old portraits are replaced, put in boxes, and the new ones are up. Our walls tell only a chapter or two.
I would like to think that the couple selling that house yesterday are moving closer to their grandkids. They will spend the rest of their lives happy and fulfilled and they will look back at the “big house” and smile at the brick binding, the drywall pages, the granite words, and hardwood photos. Their story isn’t finished, they are starting a new volume.
Ryan and I are still looking for our book, but our story is being written. It is agonizing sometimes, not knowing what to expect, how long we are going to be here, not having a concrete plan. However, our pages are waiting to be put together on the walls of a big house. My hope is that our big house is filled with joy, laughter, and happiness. In thirty years, when Ryan and I sit on our back porch and think back over our lives, I doubt we will feel sad. We will look at our story, at our scribbled, scratched, and taped pages from all over the country and world, and we will smile.