Friday, December 19, 2008

Messy Snow

Pete pulls up to the Meijer entrance and opens my passenger door from the inside; I kick the slosh off my red boots and throw my bag in the backseat, after retrieving the greeting card from my purchases. It is not a very good card, but I am an hour late to work on account of the snow plow getting stuck at the end of my driveway, so I didn't have time to browse. The front of the card shows two rather adorable cartoon elephants, one giving flowers to the other with her extended trunk. It says, "Some friends make your day better..." (the inside:) "... and some friends make your life better. Thank you for doing both." It's for my boss, Renae, on her last day of work. My handwriting is hopeless on these slippery roads.

"I love this song," I say to Pete, even though he already knows how much I love this song. "I know," he says, even though he knows that I know that he knows, which is why he is playing it. I am trying to invert the u and l in wonderful (which I have spelled "wonderflu") when he says, "I have a confession to make."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah. Okay. So, you know how I don't like a lot of the music you like, and how I'll make fun of it?"


"Well, sometimes when you're not with me, I listen to it. Not because I like it, but because I miss you. That's my confession."

It is one of the sweetest things he's said to me. "Pete. That's one of the sweetest things you've said to me. I wish you would have said that to me some other time, because right now I need to finish writing this card." I can't think of the next sentence to write, so I stare at the elephants. Suddenly my face is contorted and I'm crying. I'm crying thinking about my husband listening to music that I love while he pines for me. And I'm crying because I finally realize that today is Renae's last day.

It's not just that she's a great boss. It's that my boss has been making my day better for two years. It's that on my first shift, Renae casually said, "I feel like I've known you my whole life instead of a few hours," which was exactly what I had been thinking at that particular moment. It's that Renae can sing either "Delta Dawn" or "One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus," and I immediately laugh, every time, for reasons that remain funny even though I've long forgotten them. It's that though I claim to like change, the truth is that I count on a few mainstays amidst the change, and Renae was a mainstay. Realizing that she is leaving while I think of Pete listening to Regina Spektor (whose voice grates on his nerves) is unbearable from a dry-cheek standpoint.

Crying would be sweeter if it didn't streak my face with mascara. The snow would be lovely if it weren't getting mauled by dirty tire tracks. This whole day has been one big mess of a storm, starting with the snow plow getting stuck in our driveway. It's been a mess of a storm, and I'm blessed to be weathering it.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Home is Where Your Airplane Is

Ever wonder what it would be like to live at an aiport? Me neither. But now I know.

This is how it happened:

When the door of opportunity in Virginia was closed, Pete and I decided to peek into some other doors. In particular, we were looking for doors that didn't belong to smallish one bedroom loft apartments with no closet space. So I called a landlord through a connection and started dreaming about a little two bedroom duplex in Grand Rapids.

Then Pete said, "Would you consider living at the airport?"

I said, "No."

Then the deal maker: "It's free rent."

I snapped my finger in that "gosh darn" fashion, because of course I should consider anything with free rent, even if it is an airport in smalltownville.

We walked through two flight offices, a little cubby room dubbed "the cave," a "parts room," an empty room with various large outlets, and a bathroom with a toilet and stall shower. These rooms were all my blank canvas, Pete explained, for (respectively): an office, a bedroom, a walk in closet, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom.

"But there's no oven, sink, fridge, or countertops!"

"Uh huh."

"I could maybe deal with this shower for five months, tops."

"Joy, you're going to be a missionary."

"I could fix it up however I want?"

"However you want. Except, no weird colors on the walls. Eventually intern guys will be living here."

So we went out to lunch and ran some calculations. Within a few days we had a fridge, countertops and oven for a total of $100... at which point I considered possible careers in craigslisting. A little later, Pete's family came and helped me put paint on the walls. Two weeks after that, Bethany drove up because I told her I needed help sewing. What I really needed was my best friend and a little sanity. She provided both.

"It's cute, hun. It's going to be really fun. You will totally survive."

"Beth? Did you see the shower stall?"

"It's cute, hun. It's going to be really fun. You will totally survive. Let's get to work."

And after weeks of work and a sad goodbye to apartment 302, we moved in.

Last night Pete and I finished dinner, played some cards, then settled into the living room for The Office. I turned off the overhead lights and opted for our two floor lamps, which is when Pete said, "Hey! You did it! This is a living room!" I surveyed the work of my hands, and agreed. The "oyster shell" walls glowed warmly, the bookcase was filled with colorful spines, and my favorite craig's list find--an eleven foot couch--stretched out before us. It was home. We finished our hot chocolate and our episode, and then Pete said, "Let's go to bed."

So we stepped out of our living room, passed three airplanes on our left, and walked up the stairs to our bedroom.

Home is wherever I live with Pete. And right now, home is rent-free.

(Pictures to come.)