“Ch-ch-ch-changes,” sang Bowie, “Turn and face the strain (or strange, depending on which lyric site you click on), ch-ch-changes.” “A change would do you good,” sings Sheryl Crow. Michael Jackson looked in the mirror and sang, “Make that change.”
Do you think of change like that? As something to be stared down, accepted, won and done? There once was “this” and now there’s “that” and “this” is never coming back?
I’m staring down a ch-ch-change that’s straining me. And feels strange. I sold the Field Of Dreams. My house of 30 years. I feel like a man on the verge of retirement. Why? Well, it seems my house, Le Grand Rose Maison, this big pink brick goddess, has been my true calling. Unlike a man, I had babies, so I took time off from whatever job I was doing at the time to have them, let them grow a wee bit. I’ve had many different careers in my lifetime – in accounting, writing, fitness. My first husband died after 25 years of marriage, then I met B, hung out with him for a really long time, then married him, so I’ve even had different life partners. But the one constant, the one thing that hasn’t changed, the one thing I’ve worked toward for three whole decades, has been the building of this particular dream of home. From the moment the spade went into the ground in 1986, Le Grand Rose Maison and I have had a reciprocal agreement: I pour (lots of) money and sweat equity into you, you give me a safe and beautiful place to play, work, dream and sleep.
Like any long-term relationship, I’ll admit, there’s been times we’ve let each other down. I was really pissed at her that first spring after Hugh died. Inspecting her gardens as the ground softened I just couldn’t understand how she’d let the weigelia, the boxwood hedge, the perennial geraniums, even the delicate Japanese red maples, survive the winter and not Hugh. It made no sense. I tended her gardens that year out of obligation, not love. Over time, though, as various people, pets and plants have come and gone, I’ve had to accept that she and I have pretty limited control over life and death stuff.
Her worst trait? I’d have to say it was her drinking habit. Hugh and I planted her in clay, though. The drink couldn’t always stay away from her, it’s not completely her fault. She’d get so messy. Not violent, just messy. We added more drainage tile. No. We added another sump pump, but as you know, like an AA sponsor, they can fail when you need them most. I do think that’s why Rose and I have stuck together for so long, so that, one day at a time, we could figure this thing out. It was when her new well went in. We plucked some big tree roots from the drainage tile on the other side of the driveway. And on this side of the driveway? Where Lake Rita would form from time to time? My drainage guy added a French drain! As you can tell by her name – Le Grand Rose Maison – she’s French. She has French provincial details – wrought iron fencing, window boxes and railings. That one French drain is better than two English sump pumps, or a zillion AA sponsors. Rose feels sated now. Complete. She has no desire whatsoever to drink anymore.
I feel defined by Rose. I don’t know who I’ll be without her. She is pink sun in morning, starlit skies above her back deck at night. She is maples and blue spruces and birch trees. She is twilight bats and scampering squirrels and birds of many feathers. Pristine snow in winter. Gloppy muck in spring. Myriad shades of green and gold in summer. Wind and crunchy leaves and fields being harvested in fall.
She is the only home my three children remember. Jetanne strolled the yard the other day, the lush lawn on which she was married a few years ago. In a swaddle she carried baby Beau and in each hand was the hand of a daughter, Simone and Naomi. It was a scene reminiscent of me and my three from many years ago when the lawn was dirt and struggling seed. Wiping tears from her eyes, she said, “Oh, so many memories here. It’s hard to believe it’s going to come to an end.” Said Randy, in a Facebook post, “Saying goodbye to this beautiful place I’ve called home is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’ve roamed these acres of land through and through and touched every single inch of this property with my bare hands. It’s seen laughter . . . tears . . . love . . . and a family grow.” Jay was home for a wedding recently and got all choked up. “Oh, man,” he said, “I walked into the garage and smelled the cut grass on the Kubota. Then I wandered through the whole house, remembering all the different ways the rooms looked. Then I had to practice my wedding speech, for Liz (his gf), on the living room stage, like we used to do with our speeches when we were in public school.”
Geez. Tell me. Why did I have to go and sell her?
Because it’s time. Rose is big, giant, huge. There’s just me and B and a tiny, tiny Boston terrier named Boris. Rose needs another family to love.
It feels like betrayal, imagining my daily life within, and just outside of, another’s walls. To deal with the turmoil, I’m doing a meditation on change and here’s the thing. Change is always happening, whether you’re on board or not. That breath you just took? Not the same as the one before. Or the one after. Rose grew up out of a cornfield into one thing, then another, then another. As long as her new mistress, and mister, etc., honour their own reciprocal agreement of love and respect, Rose will be just fine.
One door closes, another opens, right? I will find another true calling. More time to write. Work out. Play with my grandkids. More time for the tending of other rooms and gardens and lawns. Smaller ones. Like at my cottage. Like at, hopefully, un petit maison B and I find to live in in the city.
Website photo credit of Le Grand Rose Maison goes to Randelle Davis with a GoPro.