“Can you believe it’s ours?” said my wife, as we stepped into the modest three-bedroom house.
Although, technically, I wouldn’t call this house “ours” yet. The house is ABOUT to be ours. There’s a difference. A few days ago we put an offer on this home and were answered with a phone call later that night. The realtor informed us that our offer had been accepted.
It was an emotional call. Afterward, my wife hung up the phone and wept like a baby. So did our tax guy.
And now here we stood. In our soon-to-be new house.
Well, actually, it’s not “new.” Far from it. The house itself is 100 years old, built slightly before Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic, back when Social Security numbers were still in the single digits.
The home’s floors slope like tsunamis, the doors are ancient, the antique windows are made of warped plate glass, and the porch is roughly the size of the Jefferson Memorial.
My wife was pulsating with glee.
“It’s perfect,” said she.
Our realtor, Robin, was with us for the victory tour. My wife’s friends and cousins were there, too. In fact, I was the only male in the group.
No sooner had we entered the front door than the home was filled with an impenetrable cloud of estrogen. In mere seconds, the ladies were deeply involved in heated conversations centralizing around crucial topics such as, for example, duvet covers. Frankly, I don’t even think they knew I was there.
“You’re just here for eye candy,” said my wife.
Which only shows you how delusional all this excitement has made my wife. Because on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being Brad Pitt, I’m the late Gabby Hayes.
Soon, the women’s design brigade was marching through the house dutifully. I headed up the rear, carrying approximately 29 handbags and pocketbooks.
Photos were taken. Notepads were consulted. Tape measures were brought out of purses. And these weren’t the amateur tape measures with steel tape. These were Star Wars-style lasers, capable of cutting Bethlehem steel.
Members of my wife’s posse were constantly throwing around terms which most guys I know could never use while maintaining a straight face. Words such as, “sconce,” “monochromatic,” “settee,” “focal piece,” and “Target.”
I watched my wife thrum from room to room like a kid who had just snorted Mountain Dew. Her voice was loud, her smile was broad. She must have opened each cabinet door 60,203 times and remarked, “Would you LOOK at this storage?”
Then she’d turn to me and wait for my decidedly male reaction.
“Absolutely,” I’d say.
Because this is the role of a husband, you see. To nod and say, “Absolutely,” no matter what the question is. Over the years I’ve become so skilled at uttering this husbandly response that sometimes I use this phrase to answer other people.
TRAFFIC COP: You realize how fast you were going back there, buddy?
So that’s what my wife and I did today. We walked around our soon-to-be house; she joyously slammed cupboards and I absolutelyed everything.
We toured the backyard. My wife used her hands to describe all the grandiose plans she has for me landscaping-wise:
“Over here you’re going to build my brick firepit, and we could do something fun right here with a birdbath. Tell me, how do you feel about hammered copper?”
Truthfully, I wasn’t listening to her anyway. Because as she spoke, I was too busy remembering when her mother was dying last year. My wife sat at her mother’s bedside and held the old woman’s hand as her mother struggled to breathe.
Before the old woman died, her family gathered around her pallet and explained their future plans to the queen dowager. It was both touching and rending at the same time, to hear adult children tell of how their lives would look without the old woman around.
My wife sat beside her mother and said, “You know how I’ve always wanted to live in Birmingham, but I couldn’t leave because…?”
Her mother nodded and said, “Because you’ve never felt right about leaving me?”
Then my wife started to cry.
And in a moment that can only be called heavenly, the old woman touched her daughter’s hand and said, “I’m sorry I’ve held you here.”
My wife began to sob harder. So did everyone else in the room.
“You haven’t held me here, Mother,” my wife said. “Taking care of you has been the greatest privilege of my life. But now, I’m thinking it’s time for me to live.”
Then her mother closed her eyes and spoke with a thick tongue. “Yes. Yes, it is.”
Before we left the room, her mother mumbled with a smile. “I’m so excited for you, let’s get our money up and go pick out a house right now.”
She died shortly thereafter.
So watching my jubilant wife wander through this antique home brings it all back. I am experiencing a feeling I’ve never felt before. It’s a merging of emotions. It’s both sorrow and nostalgia. Somehow I feel older, but also a little younger inside. Like I’m 18, and my life is just about to start. Although right now, mostly I just feel grateful to see my wife so happy.
“What does your end of the tape measure say?” asks my wife.
“Absolutely,” I say.