Coming to Spokane surprised us, though planned. Right up until the day we drove that giant Penske truck out of Salinas, California we were unsure if we would be leaving. We chose the Northwest intentionally for various reasons, but Spokane was just a page on Wikipedia that seemed not-terrible.
It did not take long for us to fall in love. We – Gabe, me, and our two dogs – stayed in a hotel while Gabe started his first day of college at Gonzaga. We found an apartment in the heart of downtown and took an eager bite out of this delicious city. We walked to Riverfront Park several times a week and discovered coffee shops and sparkling sidewalks. Our building was a former boomtown hotel built in 1904 which became luxurious quarters for travelers to Spokane during the early 1900s. Every night we heard a cacophony of bar attendants and drug addicts and friendly smokers outside our window in the alley and smelled the savory offerings of The Onion downstairs.
We loved the history of this city and that it had so much to offer culturally – a thriving downtown, plenty of museums, artistic showcases, varietal food, several fairs and events each season, a ridiculous number of parks and protected habitats, prestigious universities – but still had a small town, communal feel. And we loved that we could drive to California in two days. When the kids were born it was fairly easy for family to see them if they wanted to – my mom came to visit every 2-3 months if we weren’t already going south so she played an active role in their life despite the distance. Spokane felt like home.
So as Gabe began to close in on his degree we had to decide whether or not we would stay here, try to move back to the central coast, or go where the jobs were.
We applied for a loan as wool fleece on the threshing floor. If it went through and we found a house, we would stay and find a job here. If not, we would go where we could.
This house came up on my Zillow app over the 4th of July weekend and something in me knew this was it. It sounds silly, I know. But it reminded me of the house I grew up in – small and sky blue – and it had history on sturdy bones. I could imagine flowers in the yard and kids doing theater in front of the fireplace. We came to look at it with several other people and drew up an offer immediately at the nearest park while the kids played.
We found out our offer had been accepted minutes before our dog of 9 years passed away. Like he was waiting to make sure we had a home before he left us.
It was a blank slate when we bought it. Nothing fancy, no bells or whistles, but it was ours. I painted some trim and an accent wall (with Hannah who stayed until dark in the unlit house to finish it). While we waited for Moving Day we visited frequently, dreaming up where furniture would go, what we would plant, how we would barter our time in this space.
Two years ago today we woke up for the first time in a new home as homeowners, not renters or couch surfers. 9 years of building nests while considering the best way to tear them down, of planting shallow roots in 3 different states and too many apartments and houses to count had served as stepping stones on a path to the little blue house we found ourselves in. That morning I began the day with thisand my heart sighed heavy, full, and grateful. Roots stretched deep. The ground was fresh and sacred.
I couldn’t know that in a matter of weeks our world would get flipped around. That I would soon be in California for months on end because of a cancer we knew nothing about in the Mom who had plans to visit us soon. That it would precede 20 months of hope and faith and joy and fear and a horrific loss. I couldn’t know that I would give birth to a smiling, bright-eyed son in that very room or how significant his arrival would be for our entire extended family, but especially for Her.
This house has held us, it’s held me. I remember where I stood when Gramma called to tell me there was a growth and I plotted in my head the logistics of getting to her. I had my first bout of morning sickness in the empty bathroom. I cried for my furry best friend under his portrait in our old handed down couch and we spread his ashes around a tree in the back yard. This house cradled me, Mom, Gramma, and our new baby on a snowy, sunny day in April when we held Hope in our arms and told cancer to fuck off. It has caught my doubts and my anger and my grief and has been the stage for the stubborn joy of living loved.
In less than a thousand square feet and in only two years we have crammed big and honest Living. We could do it in a cardboard box or a mansion, but it’s woven into this place. This place which could have held anyone – with a better offer or quicker time – but it holds us. This morning I began the day with this
and my heart sighs heavy, a little less full, but still grateful. Roots firmly planted. The ground is worn and “sacred” is another word for Ours.