My Big, Fat Palm Sunday Egg of Me
I was many months pregnant with my first of two daughters when I found the house I wanted to buy on Palm Sunday two decades ago. I don't know where my husband was, but my sister and I had gone off to look at possible real estate options (my husband and I called it slum-hunting since we were so poor). But that Palm Sunday I found the ideal candidate: it had a stained-glass window that overlooked a wide front porch. It had a half-bath (more like a quarter-bath; it was so tiny you could wash your hands while peeing if you wanted to). It had its original wallpaper (this meant something to me--but why?--since Wharton's House of Mirth had won the Pulitzer Prize the same year as this house had been built). And it had a gas stove. I met my husband for lunch at the Broadway Diner (every city has a Broadway; this wasn't New York) to talk about it. I was so keen for him to see it, so hot to buy the house. I was wearing one of the maternity dresses I had sewn for my pregnancy. I had sewn all my maternity wear for this pregnancy. I wasn't a very good seamstress. In this particular lavender linen-polyester Vogue pattern dress I looked a little like a larger-than-life-size Easter egg. For lunch I ate grilled cheese. My husband ate egg salad. He was always suggestible. Just not about the house. He walked through the door and he didn't like it. Not at all. After all, my sister and I had picked it out. He had been someplace else, doing something else. Maybe just sleeping in. Look, I said, pointing at the old wallpaper. She was blind, the woman who'd lived here. That's why she never changed the wallpaper. She was the grand-daughter of the original owners. Blind, she was. She knew enough to have the furnace changed from coal to oil, to have the gaslights changed from gas to electric. But she left the wall paper. We have to honor what she couldn't see. He didn't follow my logic. Why should he? But it would be our home. And we were at least as blind as the last owner, the blind grand-daughter. We didn't know what we were doing. But we brought our first child home from the birth center to that place. And we lived there for two full years, calling the police whenever we needed to because we'd paid no heed to the "Location, location, location" maxim that keeps the feint of heart away from living amidst drug deals and domestic violence. We loved it. And we sold it when I had to move to go to seminary. It so happens I'm in town now and then and when I do I drive past it when I can. The clapboards have been replaced with siding. The porch rails, once tapered and white-washed, are Lowe's-unfinished, soft-pine slats. The stained-glass window seems ever more recessed. And this March--when I last drove by--the lilac I planted and never saw to bloom, is spindly, reaching upward like a communion-hungry hand, making more poignant the hope for spring.