(Disclaimer: this post is long, but our house deserves it.)
I still remember the day we came home from our honeymoon with tanned faces and full, happy hearts. We excitedly put away new dishes and towels, filling up cabinets and drawers with wedding gifts. I made room for Brett in the closet, generously offering 1/8 of the space I had occupied during the nine months I lived here alone while attending UC Davis.
This was our first home.
This is where we learned the weird things that you can only know about a person after living with them, like how Brett always gets water in the toothpaste cap and how I never replace the toilet paper roll. It was here in this house that we learned how to be married, for better and for worse and everything in between. This is where we kissed against the kitchen cabinets and threw socks at each other from across the bed, laughing till we cried on the carpet floor over something I've now forgotten.
It was here in this house that we learned how to manage our expectations and priorities, balance our finances and goals, communicate openly and honestly, and love each other well.
It was here in this house that we spent many nights curled up on the couch watching reruns of The Office, munching on popcorn with our legs tightly intertwined. This is where we talked about our hopes and dreams late at night in the darkness of our bedroom, planning for our future and discussing things like Greece and babies and retirement. This is where---early in our marriage---we created Dance Parties In The Bathroom, a tradition that will surely remain with us wherever we may go.
It was here in this house that we stood in the kitchen and cooked meals together: spaghetti with meatballs, stir fry, turkey burgers, rosemary lemon chicken, Parmesan risotto, grilled cheese with tomato soup. We found our groove, our tastes, our standard weekly rotation. This is where I learned how to garden in our tiny backyard, reaping the fruits of my labor for the first time in the summer of 2011 in the form of fresh lettuce, carrots, squash, zucchini, and miniature strawberries. This is where we hosted our first Thanksgiving, eight of us crammed around the table bumping elbows as we passed the butter.
It was here in this house that I started chasing my dreams of becoming a writer and a photographer. I stayed up late writing blog posts and researching camera lenses while Brett helped me redesign my blog a dozen times. We sat in the office side by side, him with his iMac and me with my MacBook Pro, working on this blog and my photography site for weeks on end. It was here in this house that I took a leap of faith and started Ashlee Gadd Creative. This house is where I work, every day, while Everett naps.
It was here in this house that I took my first pregnancy test and learned of Everett's existence. We stood in the bathroom in happy disbelief, hugging tightly and thanking God for the tiny miracle inside my belly. This is where we prepared for his arrival---arranging furniture and bookshelves, painting globes and cutting maps, folding onesies and assembling strollers. We sat on the couch perusing baby name books, and it was here in our living room on a cold November evening that we chose the name Everett. In December we stood in the middle of our kitchen surrounded by friends and family as we cut through a bright blue cake, confirming what my mother's intuition already knew: our baby was a boy. Everyone cheered and clapped and we drank peach champagne in celebration. This is where I spent nine long months being pregnant, working from bed in my sweatpants with my laptop and a full bag of Cheetos.
It was here in this house that we attempted to turn Everett from the breech position to the head-down position without success. We propped an ironing board against a chair and I lied on it upside down for 30 minutes at a time with frozen fried rice on the top of my belly and a heating pad at the bottom. This is where we spent the night before my scheduled c-section, down on our knees in prayer, equally full of anticipation and fear.
This was Everett's first home.
It was here in this house that Everett smiled for the first time, laughed for the first time, crawled for the first time. This is where we learned about the challenges of sleep deprivation and projectile vomiting, and where we first experienced the joy of watching the world through Everett's eyes.
It was here, standing in the front yard, that we learned that Brett's dad had passed away. This is where we both broke down crying, where we hugged each other tightly with Everett sandwiched in between us, and I prayed harder than I've ever prayed before. This is where we grieved, and continue to grieve, and through the grace and love of God, have slowly started to heal.
It was here in this house that we have grown closer, made mistakes, offered forgiveness, and learned what marriage is all about. We have spilled secrets and fears, yelled and screamed, cried from both sadness and laughter. This house has seen us at our best and seen us at our worst.
But I know that if these walls could talk, they would only tell tales of love. Real, rich, beautiful love.
May our next house be just as good, just as warm, and just as willing to graciously capture the next chapter of our story.