I've beed reading lots of other people's blogs lately. I love to look at the way life can be framed by a blog. There's something very elemental about it, if that makes sense to you the way it does to me!
Yesterday I checked out the blogs of my friend Kathy's son and daughter-in-law, Luke and Natalie (http://www.himandherweekly.blogspot.com/ and http://www.natalienoack.blogspot.com/). It makes me feel positively ancient when my friends have married children (and grandchildren)! But I also love the way such generationality focuses a new lens on life for me.
Luke and Natalie are college students who married young. They are SO cute! Natalie wrote of Luke's passion for organic gardening, of trying to make their little attic apartment a home, and of the joys of cooking spontaneous summer meals with fresh ingredients. She plunged me deeply into nostalgia! I'm a total houseaholic but, to me, the best parts of houses are the nooks and crannies -- and especially the attics -- and some of the best houses are little, vintage houses where newlyweds start out! And little houses just have charm and personality -- the venue for the simple joys which are some of the best, most important moments in life.
I've always had a love of little, vintage spaces. In 5th grade my friend Ellen Kincade and I were granted use of bathroom of the apartment-turned-storage-space over the detached garage of their 1920's foursquare house in Tulsa. It was our fort. I think I fixated on making curtains for it -- which, in retrospect, makes perfect sense because I'm always making curtains! We dreamed and fantasized about how we would fix it up. I'm not sure we ever really DID anything to it. Mostly we just sat in there, one on the sink and one on the toilet tank, hoping the breeze from the tiny window would relieve the muggy summer heat and tried to think of meaningful things to talk about in our special space!
During the past week, my girls have rediscovered the "playhouse" in our backyard. We built a 10' x 12' barn-shaped storage building about 10 years ago (I remember that because I was expecting Sara-Grace!). We put in stairs so the top part (which is about 3 1/2 high) could be a play space. Emily and her friend, Olivia, played in it some. But pretty quickly it was labelled "spiderland" and no one wanted to go up there anymore (except ME, of course -- amid fantasies of what I could do to the downstairs). Sara-Grace and her friends breathed new life into the upstairs this week. Tessa then caught the bug and, last night, she and her friends spent the night up there (thanks to the extension cord that runs the light and heater). And I was able to clean out the downstairs enough to lay a mattress on the floor and dust off my dreams of what it can (and WILL!) be.
And I have plans to make a guest house out of the little one-car garage at 419 S. Taylor -- a little private haven with French doors that open to the back garden.
It's funny because I was already pondering Luke and Natalie's little attic apartment. And pining for simple newlywed days in cute little spaces. And then I ended up unexpectedly spending a big chunk of my day working on just such a space. As I worked, I pined and pondered.
Mark and I grieve regularly that we didn't get married right out of high school. He always says that, if he had it to do over again, he would have gotten me pregnant just to insure it! And, in retrospect, I would be all for that! Instead, we went away to different colleges and everything fell apart by the second semester and we went 18 years with no contact -- even though we both knew the other was "the One". One of the top three regrets of my life is that I didn't transfer to OU during my freshman year like I considered doing at the time. My parents and grandfather went there. My cousin went there. It was only 90 minutes from home. Mark was at Oklahoma City University and that would have put us in the same city.. If we had it to do over again, things would be very, very different and much, much better! Or maybe not. But I still grieve that it didn't happen that way.
Oh the simple bliss of getting to be young newlyweds in a little apartment and share the experience and learning and growth of the college years! The joy of getting to be "just us", of getting to focus on one's beloved, of getting to immerse oneself on them in a private, secuded haven.
We have five children, heavy financial responsibilities, crushing stress, and we are currently forced to live in different states. After thirty years of wanting to be together we still don't get to be -- even though we are finally married (which still seems surreal, hasn't sunk in, and maybe never will!). I found myself wandering around yesterday wishing we could roll back time to a little newlywed house where we could just revel in each other...
And then it dawned on me! We HAVE that! It's 419 S. Taylor! Our first little house together. Where we scrape by and improvise and decorate on a shoestring. Where we get to be alone and run away from the world. Mark's boys are with their mother most of the time. And my girls don't like to come with me to Enid very much because they have lives and friends in Fayetteville and because "that house is haunted" (which is another story for another day)! So Mark and I get the moonlit summer nights with the windows open and the breeze flowing through. We've gotten to live by candlelight when we didn't have the power on. We get to walk around naked and pee off the back porch (well, one of us does!). We get to make love until the wee hours of the morning and stay up late enough talking to hear our neighbor start up his motorcycle at 3:30 a.m. to go to his massively early shift at work. We get to sleep until we wake up in each other's arms and then decide to get up only because there are donuts and dumpster diving and garage sales out there on a Saturday morning or church on a Sunday morning.
God has found a way to grant us the little, simple joys of a lifestage we missed out on. In His amazing grace and benevolence, we get to have our newlywed house and our newlywed time now, in our mid-40's, when our children are starting to drive and our friends are becoming grandparents. We may not have what you would consider luxuries and the timing is very weird but we are truly blessed.
Back in high school we listened to John Cougar/Mellencamp. The song "Jack and Diane" was always about us. It said "hold on to 16 as long as you can". Many nights Mark would take me home from a date and kiss me goodnight and pretend to leave. And then I'd sneak him into my bedroom. And then 4 or 5 a.m. would come and we would have to pry ourselves apart. Some nights I'd drive HIM home as the newspapers were being delivered and the sprinklers watered darkened lawns in the neighborhood. We may not have been being "proper", but those were some of the most powerful, magical, spiritual, ethereal nights of my life. John Cougar wrote a song called "Ain't Even Done With The Night" that captured so much about how we felt about each other. Three lines in that song linger in my head and on my heart "Well our hearts beat like thunder" , "You say that I'm the boy who can make it all come true" and, very simply, "hold tight". And there was another song, "Little Pink Houses (for you and me)". When we finally get to paint 419 S. Taylor the pale, pale shade of pink called "Slipper" (and, no, the Cinderella reference is not lost on us) with white trim and black accents, we will finally, literally, have OUR "little pink house".