Remember last week when I wrote my impassioned post about how our new life in our new house? Things took a turn for the…funny?…strange?…unexpected? this weekend.
We think that a tornado came through. The weather service says that it was a windstorm, but the 40-50 downed trees on our new property tell a different story. (Update: NPR informed me last night that it was a derecho.)
The thing is, a lot went right in this situation. First and foremost, no one was hurt. Our car and my stepdad’s truck were in the driveway and are both fine. A tree fell on the house, but only on the porch roof (and actually we didn’t love the way that looked anyway, though I would have happily lived with it and foregone this particular removal method.) and trees grow back. We haven’t moved in and we still have power at our old house. Air Conditioning. Showers.
On the other hand, when I called the insurance company and the claims person said, “wasn’t this policy activated on a home that you just purchased?” I sort of choked up and laughed at the same time. “Yes sir. Actually we closed on the house last Friday. We’ve owned it for a week.”
I thought of a great many ways to describe this experience as Drew and I cut up and hauled tree bits and corpses all day Saturday. It’s like falling really hard for someone only to find out that he’s broken both his legs a week later and now you’re responsible not just for caring for him, but for setting both legs and then bandaging them in casts. It’s like the time that we dropped the birthday cake on the floor just after we lit the candles. Except so much bigger. And Funny. And Heartbreaking. It’s a chance to dig our heels in. It’s like getting punched in the gut and hugged in the same moment by the same person.
Near the end of the day Saturday, as the driveway emerged at our hands from under its temporary suffocation of 20 or so trees, I said to myself, what we’ve lost in shade, we’ve gained in sky. And that’s not a bad position to be in. And I think that’s the one I’m sticking with. I get that this is not the end of the world. It’s actually just about the furthest thing from the end of the world. But it’s still sad. We bought this house for the property. Those leaves whispered to us.
We have a lot of work to do, we always did. But the face of the land is different and we’re both trying so hard to put on a brave face and tell the house that it’s not that bad, and things like, give it some time and no one will even notice. This house is already a Walton, remember? I would like to think that it’s already seeing the humor in this, it’s an eternal optimist, it’s already telling itself how we’ll be looking back and thinking that if all those trees hadn’t come down, we never would have…
But part of me thinks that the house and the land seem a little sad too. I know that it’s the stuff of idle minds to overly personify a place, so say what you will about my mind, but I can’t help it. I feel a certain self-consciousness from the land that was, as of Friday night, used to turning heads.
Trees grow back. Hurt feelings mend. Sad stories ultimately have their hilarious moments. Remember how we waited 7 years to buy a house and a week later a tornado ripped through the land? Our new home had two broken legs and we set them and then bandaged them with casts. We wanted something to invest in, and here we are with sap in our hair, hesitantly declaring ourselves to be fully invested.
When we were in the midst of the treemaggedon (treesanity? treepocolypse?) over the weekend we just kind of immediately got down to business and it didn’t really sink in that this was the new reality of our house. I woke up Monday morning and the sadness kind of settled in, but being a Debbie Downers is pretty much for the birds, so now I’m back to thinking that it’s all going to be fine. I felt a genuine cultural loss when Nora Ephron passed away last week and I’ve been reading or re-reading her writing since then. She has a lot of gems, but in an older article from the New Yorker in which she writes about a long term love affair with an apartment that came to an end, she concludes the article by saying, “It’s not love. It’s just where I live”. Our house was shaken this week, but it seems that our Home is still firmly intact. I’m so thankful that we’re mourning the aesthetic losses to our land and not something that might actually be of consequence.