And finally, we have moved into our new home. I write this in my old-new writing room--old because it used to be my father’s office and all his shelves remain; and yet new because in the middle of it sits my bright yellow couch. My father’s law books have been packed and given away. Instead, my own beloved books sit on these old beloved shelves. I feel all warm and cozy, wrapped in some eternal hug my father gives me from the great beyond.

"Yes, we have moved into this house," I say with finality. The cars are finally park-able in the garage. There is a doorbell! Thank heavens there is a doorbell! We have a found a rhythm to our days. We have even found a good system for turning on and off lights and locking doors. The children take care of locking doors in the bedroom area. Fear has diminished with this task. A sense of responsibility has slowly become part of their lifestyle. Having their own rooms means their own self-care. Once in a while, babyhood rears its head: a sudden fear of the dark, a child moves into our bed, a few sniffles here and there. Par for the course for the difficulty of moving, I say, and embrace the lapse. Someday, they will no longer want me.

This is our third home. Our first was a three-bedroom apartment on a small street. We knew there were two (pun intended) many bedrooms but it was near my parents’ house. At the time, my husband’s work hours were in the evenings and it seemed safer to stay close to home. After my own work, I would hang out in the old house and he would fetch me. Or in those years when blackouts were such a great part of all our lives, I would while away the darkness with my siblings.

There are still days when memories of that lovely apartment come to me, even if we had only lived there for two years, a measly fraction of what has become, in the blink of an eye, an 18-year old marriage. Like all the homes that we would eventually call ours, this one was a mix-match of old furniture, hauled from different places. But I remember most the minutest details: the number of steps from the garage to the living room (two), the stairs to the bedrooms (six per landing), the smell of the sliding doors (sweet), the color of marble (yellow and ecru with tiny dots of gray), the chalk we placed around the cabinets to get rid of ants, the sound of the doorknob to the laundry area different from the sound of the doorknob of our bedroom. I remember the view of Christopher, our neighbor’s six-year-old son, running around the street, barefooted, hugging his enormous Labrador with all the love in his heart.

Our second home in the beginning was a repository of all that we hoped to be. We built it when Teodoro, our firstborn, was only six months old. At the time, we had wanted only two children but were unsure when the second was to come. So our second floor was a vast empty space at first so that Teodoro could crawl and it would be years later, when two more children were born that walls would be erected, demarcating spaces. We lived here for 15 years. When I am in the sala of this old house, I am reminded of how difficult all the pregnancies were. The sofa from that space, which is still with us now, was my bed for many months, relegated to bed rest for an entire trimester or so.

This house rarely changed, a testament to the solidity or rigidity of our family. At most, we like to change color. But furniture, or position of furniture, we’re pretty clear who we are. It’s also partly because Teodoro, who would be diagnosed with autism at three years old, does not like change. So we learned very quickly to love just what we already had. How strangely metaphorical that is, when you think about it.

The children’s childhoods, and their cousins, are all over this space: the breakfast nook with the wood bench with all the drawings of my nephews and nieces, whom were like my first children; the garden floor with their first paintings of flowers and leaves embossed; marks on the walls peeking out of the walls because they used permanent ink while drawing; pegs on the bathroom wall that chronicled their growth. The last few months in the old house, I would pass my hands over the walls and utter “thank you, thank you.” Surely it was an utterance for God, but a God who makes all things visible and invisible.

Time is a funny thing. We use so many gadgets to track time and yet it is one of the most difficult elements to take hold of. What is a second, a minute, an hour--especially in the time we live in, today? Time, which has been collapsed by the internet, by television, by the enormous responsibility of being able to be in more than one place at one time? Recently, my husband wanted to buy a sundial. I wanted to buy a sand clock, one where a minute is measured by the amount of sand that passes through a thin crevice. How I marveled at the idea of using light and shadow to be able to grasp time.

Time’s passage comes to me now whenever I tour people around the house. I point out objects that declare how much time has passed in our marriage and it is a wonderful, wondrous thing. Our walls carry paintings that traverse the time from when we were young and had money to invest to paintings that are now made by the children themselves. Last week, a newly married couple came to see the house. They had just moved into their new home, which was virtually empty. They worried about this emptiness. We walked along our halls, where most things had history, resonance, a story attached to it. I told them their house would be full soon enough with the passage of time and that someday their worry would be how to keep it all.

The first few times we moved, I was impatient for things to fall into their place. I am glad I am much calmer now. Our hallway is lined with items looking for a place to belong. I am taking my time deciding where things should go, trusting that the space will speak to me and reveal what it would want. I am less afraid of what time will bring having been harrowed by life repeatedly. I am glad this new house will shape me, an older me, and that it will house the rest of our history.

(Photo courtesy of Bok Arandia)

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