I took a long weekend off from work to move, unpack, and try to settle into my house. On Tuesday I returned to my workday routine, and as I was driving home I found myself wondering whether I should go to the house to pick up mail or wait a day or so. Then I remembered – I live at my house now! No more back and forth between the rental and my own house. Because the two houses are only 1 ½ miles away from each other, I often drive on the same streets, but I’ve only headed back to the rental once so far. After living there five months, it still seems more normal than driving home.
It seems strange to think about adjusting to your own home. The interior is entirely different – new and improved – though the layout is the same. And sure enough, what I mentioned a few months ago about forgetting where light switches are and which way doors open in the rental house has happened now at home. My second day back, I asked my contractor why there were no light switches by the door anymore. He didn’t know, but he’d look into it. Later on I remembered that it was the rental house light switches I had been reaching for; there never had been any in that location at my house. I no longer trust my memory about such details, so unless I see something in my before-fire photos, I’m keeping my mouth shut.
You can’t live at a different place in unusual circumstances without having it affect you. For me, it’s been mostly in small ways. Where am I going to put everything in my pantry? It’s so small (compared to the rental house one). My garage seems smaller, too, but then it’s full of tools and paint buckets and other paraphernalia still being used by the workmen. I’m grateful to have an icemaker again. Buying ice or constantly filling up ice cube trays was a bother, especially because I never could pop all the ice cubes out, no matter how many ways I twisted the plastic trays. I appreciate the good water pressure and the hand-held showerhead I now have. I truly enjoy sleeping on a firm mattress after months of tossing and turning on one much too soft. And while I take joy in my new furniture, having some of the old familiar pieces brings me some comfort.
The first week home was an adjustment for the dogs, too. They barked a lot at the neighbor dogs, but they loved being in the backyard for hours at a time, especially Rosie. They rested on their dog cushions quite happily in the same place as they were before we left. But Buddy, my big black dog, was mopey and needy. I would settle into the armchair to read or watch a program and he would come over and lean on me as best he could, pawing for attention. A wannabe lapdog, he had loved getting up on the couch at the rental house and snuggling, trying his best to occupy half my lap. I liked it, too, but my leg would go numb under his weight. I had just bought new living room furniture and didn’t relish the thought of dog hair all over it. I tried to stay firm, giving Buddy extra hugging and petting, but he continued to give me pitiful looks every evening. Finally I caved. I bought a blanket the same color as the couch and draped it over, trying to make it look as presentable as possible. I’ll take it off when company comes, I told myself. And then I invited Buddy to come sit with me on the couch.