Our home is shaped like an L.
On one end, bedrooms and bathrooms are clustered around a short hallway. This hallway empties into the living room, which houses the front door, coat closet, a squishy red couch, a few bookshelves, and a rather worn Oriental rug. Turn, and you find yourself in the kitchen, which flows into the dining room. Beyond that, the family room—which houses a much less-squishy blue couch, a television, a couple chairs, and a wall of built-in bookshelves.
We rarely use the rooms past the kitchen. I find myself wishing our house, which at about 1500 square feet is well below the national average, were smaller. More centralized. When I’m cooking, I like to chat with Jason. I can’t do that if he’s in the family room. When Simone’s in the bath, I want to be able to hear her playing while I pick up around the house.
Tonight I went to a babywearing meeting in another area of town. Jason and I lived there when we first got engaged. We walked to coffee shops and bookstores and our favorite Indian place. We lived in a small apartment with an absurd layout and an ugly futon and the dingy white walls of a rental, but it felt new and wonderful because it was ours. Driving home, the city lights a watery neon against the early autumn dusk, I listened to Richard and Teddy Thompson duet on the radio. I knew from the particular silence that my son was asleep in the backseat.
All of this time we have been looking for more, for upward mobility, for the things we feel are out of reach. But it’s always something more. We have two children and three cats. We have writing gigs and weekly playdates and alphabet magnets on the fridge. And sometimes I simply want to start over. Sell the house, pare down the toys and the kitchen equipment and the books and the electronics and the extra towels. Find a cozy rental in our old neighborhood and settle in. Less space. Less stuff. Less stress. More of each other and the things I really do, in the end, wish I could take with me.