So, the back stairs have been repaired, and our building painted. The idea of “home” runs so strong and deep it feels a physical part of me, painful to separate from. Thinking we’ll soon have to leave here, in between bouts of tears I want to appreciate and remember our home and garden in all its complexity:
The rain dripping from the front eaves and broken gutter in the back of the house, ferocious during a good downpour, the whole house lighting up in the rare thunderstorm.
Hanging laundry to dry by the only heater in the apartment. The earwigs caught up in laundry I hang on the garden clothesline, angrily biting when I shake them out. The pill bugs, beetles, and salamanders settling and creeping through stacks of flowerpots, figurines, and broken crockery buried and unearthed in the yard. The rats who ate our strawberries until I made a cage of wire mesh. The spiders spinning webs in the compost bin and piles of yard debris.
The cute, quirky turn-of-the-19th-century built-ins holding our china and books in the kitchen and bedroom. The lead-crystal knobs and glass panes on our doors; the high ceilings and hardwood floors. The beautiful light streaming into the front living room windows in late afternoon. The great views from there and the kitchen, where you can look out over several lush gardens beyond. Our quiet, dark bedroom, a nest in the middle of the house.
Through our treehouse-like, tiny back office, christened “the mold room” after renovating the old completely rotted room, I once again grew closer to the seasons after spending many years cooped up inside a large office building. Also a great place to hear the rain pounding on the roof, from the mold room we watch at eye-level fat, cheeping little bushtits eating in the ivy, camellia, and fruit tree; and warblers, juncos, ravens, and crows nesting and playing in the giant eucalyptus next door. We have extraordinary peace and privacy in the garden, thanks to a strategic location between trees, bushes, other buildings and a fence. It’s hard to take an animal out of its habitat. With humans, though, it’s much more complicated. We have the ability to readily adapt to new situations and habitats. If we so choose.
At the back of my mind also lurks the memory of my mother becoming too ill to keep our old house. The terrible fear of losing everything and falling to that same fate. But that was a different situation, a long time ago. I count myself lucky, considering everything people go through. Most lucky to have a supportive partner like B., who looks to a new future with hope and excitement. A creature of habit very resistant to change, I’m filled with rage and resentment at being priced out of the city where I largely grew up, but unfortunately this is common nowadays. The time has come to make a change.
Last but most important is the possibility of leaving this area and our wonderful friends. We’ve been right in the heart of San Francisco’s Noe Valley, where everything is here or a short walk to the Mission, the Castro, the Haight. Anything farther is accessible by bus. That’s not something you can find everywhere. But no matter where we move, even if it’s completely out of the Bay Area, I know we’ll stay in close touch with the friends that, in our over 10 years here, have become family, part of our lives. And we won’t soon forget having spent so many good years in this historic house on the hill.