About three years ago, there was a big storm here, and a gust of wind ripped off our screen door.
I called the landlord even though I was afraid. I am always afraid that men my father’s age are going to shout at me and blame me for things that could not possibly be my fault, like air.
But he was friendly and told me he would “take care of it.”
He came by later that week and took our screen door, and that was that.
For a long time, we assumed that he would be back with a new screen door, or perhaps he would return with the old one and some nails and a hammer, and I don’t know, a saw?, but I guess in his mind the problem was already solved – we no longer had a bent screen door hanging off the side of our home.
In some ways, this is just rental living – you give up a certain amount of “things you would like” in exchange for knowing that if the water heater goes out, that’s not your problem.
And for a very long time, that had been just what we needed.
Because this home was our safe place after leaving our old home, our home we bought when my oldest was a babe in arms, and we were young and hopeful.
Then the drug dealers came and ruined everything, which is in exact opposition to what would happen if this was a story about the Craziest Party I Ever Attended in College!
But that’s the thing, see – we weren’t college kids anymore – we were parents, and so we took our kids and ran even though it meant doing a short-sale on our house, losing every penny of our savings and ruining our credit for three years.
And so this was our 3-Years House – the place we fled to. Our safe place.
For a short time we all lived here like refugees in a school gym. We spent a lot of time together in one room, on top of each other. We lived small and quiet, and we were grateful.
We’ve been here for 5 years now, and all the signs are telling us that we need to move.
A grumpy woman two doors down has reported our chickens as a nuisance, and so we’re going to have to re-home them.
The roof is leaking, and our landlord keeps sending a man out to patch it. Our house looks like how they depict soldiers coming home from war in movies – all band-aids and crutches and humble smiles. It’s thrilled to see us, but it’s beat to hell.
And now the Kid Behind the Fence is back.
I’ve never actually seen this kid, but when we had our previous dog, he used to run around his yard howling, which as you can imagine, did not help to quiet our own dog’s howling.
My husband met him once. He climbed up on his fence and asked my husband about our chickens:
“What is that?” he began.
“A chicken,” my husband said.
“Can I touch it?” he asked.
“Umm,” my husband said. “I think that’s OK, but do you want to ask your parents?”
“No,” he said. “I want to touch your chicken.”
And so my husband lifted our calmest chicken, Pepper, up to the fence, and the kid touched her and then ran away while my husband shouted after him that he should probably wash his hands?
We don’t know how to deal with other people’s children here.
Yesterday, my daughter and I were on the porch when we heard a sing-song voice calling our dog’s name. “Ro-xy,” the voice sang.
My first though was Ghost!, followed by, someone must have a dog with a similar name.
“Ro-xy,” the voice sang, “Come here girl.”
Maybe they have a dog named Foxy, I thought. Or Knox. I think I met a dog named Knox once.
As if to prove me wrong, the voice sang clearly, “Ro-xy! Come here Rox!” and it sounded just like my daughter, except coming from behind the neighbor’s fence.
This is problematic for two reasons: 1. Our dog is a little hyper and a little barky, which has not proved popular with the neighbors and 2. I’ve read a lot of Stephen King.
It’s like the Universe is shoving us out the door, but unfortunately, like our landlord, it hasn’t delivered a new door yet.
My husband looks online at houses and sends me listings, and they all make me want to cry for various reasons, very few of them legitimate.
“The placement of the windows in front makes it looks like a face,” I”ll say, and I’ll hear him trying not to sigh.
And then: “A happy face or a sad face?”
But he already knows the answer.
So we’ve decided this week that we’re going to begin a search in earnest, and get a professional involved. Much like how some marriages need a third-party to tell the other two parties that they are being ridiculous, we need a Realtor to tell me that houses don’t have faces.
And I decided that it’s time to relinquish some control of this situation.
Three times in the past when we have needed a home, it has come to us. Not on the timeline I wanted, but in plenty of time to keep us from having to move into a friend’s garage.
So my prayer each day is to “Bring us home.”
I say it whenever I start to get scared, and once in the morning and once before bed just to be safe.
“God, if you have a minute, can you help?” I ask. “Please bring us home.”