Dennis and I were on vacation last week. I am now allowed to reveal to you the secret location of our get-away: home.
There were a lot of reasons we decided not to spend thousands of dollars on a beach vacation. But mostly, we just couldn't pass up the chance to be home alone. Since Ben was on a mission trip and Matt has moved to Mississippi, we had our first chance to be home alone in about 18 months!
We love our house, though it is not fancy, and it needs to be painted and updated. We love our neighborhood. We've lived here for 21 years. We moved in on the weekend of July 4. Matt was 6 months old.
We recently discovered that Jon Acuff has just moved to our neighborhood. (Stalkers, I know where he lives, but I won't tell you, 'cause I'm a good neighbor.) Not long after they moved in, he wrote about their decision to buy their house:
During this process, we made a pretty important decision about the way we’re going to make decisions. You see, we found a perfect little cottage that was near an elementary school. It’s so close to the school that the girls can walk every day instead of riding the bus or getting dropped off.
The house is absolutely adorable and we love it, but it’s just not as big as some of the other houses we looked at. Some of the other houses had bigger living rooms or more closet space or newer kitchens. But in picking the house to live in, we decided that when it comes to our life, we’re going to make “lore decisions.” We’re going to pick the option that someday will enable our kids to tell really great stories, the option that will add to the lore of their childhoods.
That probably seems a little silly, but for me it’s not. I know when my kids are grown up, they will not tell their friends, “You know what I loved about my childhood? The ample closet space we had.”
No, they will say, “When I was a kid, we could walk to school. On the weekends, we’d ride our bikes to the playground and play kickball. In the morning before work, my dad would walk me and my sister to school.”
The words might change, but they’ll hopefully be able to tell great stories because we made great story decisions.
Lore. This house is full of it. Long before it was featured in The Time Closet and Plot Device, Seth was dressing up the neighbors' kids and bossing them around the back yard with a camera in his hand.
That back yard had no garden, no plants, just a cement slab of a patio when we moved in. It has hosted numerous camp-outs and birthday sleep-overs. (Like the birthday camp-out Seth had, when I heard giggling at 2 a.m. and flipped on the outside light to find a row of middle school boys peeing into the ditch.)
There are still dead spots in the grass that remind me how we marked the beginning of summer: Dennis would set up the tent the first day after school was out, and the boys would drag their sleeping bags, pillows, toys out there. Dennis would run an extension cord to it so they could watch videos and have lamps. The tent stayed up all summer, 'til the final camp-out before school started in the fall.
Dennis is a master at wiring the back yard with lighting, hanging box fans in the trees on still summer nights. He finally had to install plugs on a separate breaker to run his "party" extension cords without tripping circuits in the house. We've thrown some serious parties out there - all those 4th of July cook outs with the choir & orchestra and all their families, when Back Yard Burger pulled their trailer into the yard and filled the neighborhood with delicious smells. And our talented friends filled the neighborhood with beautiful music at the "open mic" set up on the driveway. We've lived here through 21 summers of fire crackers and sparklers. 21 years of Christmas trees and exterior illumination. Including the Christmas after Dennis had been in a car accident and was incapacitated. Kind church members brought over the biggest dang Christmas tree on earth. When they untied it, it took over the playroom. We had a Griswold family Christmas.
We've been through 3 trampolines. When the first one wore out, the cul de sac got together and offered to help pay for a new one! It has been full of kids over the years. When they were little, I kept a tub of assorted socks and shoes left there - a neighborhood Lost & Found. On many summer nights, I would hear them as teenagers laughing and talking as they lay on the trampoline looking at the stars. (I hope that's all they were doing!)
Matt Worley used to run buck naked through this house like a puppy after his bath every night. (He was only 3. It hasn't happened recently.) By the time he was in middle school, he & his friends were such big lugs that when they ran and jumped on the furniture, they broke the legs off my living room furniture! Then there was the December night when Seth, Matt and Ben decided to make a short film, "The Fight Before Christmas." Matt, as the most bizarre Santa since Dan Ackroyd, literally knocked things off the bookshelves in my bedroom when he crashed into the other side of the wall.
There are a lot of bangs, dings and smudges that are testimonies of lore. Like the bright blue & orange door at the top of the back stairs that Arley randomly decided to paint when she & Seth were dating.
The playroom with the floor I painted bright red has been stuffed with Legos, dinosaurs, bean bags, a pool table, video equipment, guitars and sound gear. The garage has never housed a car, but it has been a holding cell for bikes, trikes, stolen shopping carts, lawnmowers, tools, athletic gear, footballs, basketballs, baseballs, gym equipment, sound equipment, video equipment. It's been a shop where Dennis and his Dad built bookshelves, a work-out room, a staging spot for zombie make-up.
We've set up cribs, bunk beds, twin beds, king beds and now cribs again. We've brought home babies to this house and grandbabies. We've come home from surgeries to this house. We've recovered from having three sets of wisdom teeth removed and spent countless nights running vaporizers, battling croupy coughs.
Last week, it was a great vacation spot. We asked ourselves, what would we do if we went to the beach? We'd sleep late, pack up a cooler with shrimp salad and spend the day in the sun & water, come home and clean up and go out to eat. So that's what Dennis and I did. I made buckets of shrimp salad. We packed it up and went to the neighborhood pool every day, the pool where we taught our boys to swim. We went out to dinner, and we stayed in for dinner. We watched DVD's. We did no projects. We did not fix or paint anything, though it needs it. We did "pimp" the fort in the back yard, the fort where Elliott plays, the fort that we built for his daddy, the fort where his daddy invented a lot of stories, the fort that makes an appearance in The Time Closet.
Mostly, we just enjoyed being home alone. A home that has very little closet space, but is full of stories.
Dorothy said it best: There's no place like home.