For several years, time has been in the annoying habit of slipping away from me.
My first nephew, who is supposed to be 10 years old--12 at the absolute oldest--is now old enough to drive. My brother--who, in my mind is perpetually 20 and in college--has 3 kids and his own successful business. And my dad mentioned just tonight that he refused a certain medical treatment because although it might add a little time to his lifespan, it wasn't worth the discomfort. "Maybe if I was 45 and had lots of years ahead of me, I'd consider it," he said, "But I don't have that many years left anyway, and I'm not spending them going in for a procedure every week, when it doesn't help that much, and I'll be gone pretty soon, either way."
I know where a lot of the time has gone--hell, I've spent a lot of years documenting it on this very website. But if I wanted to dip into some heavy-handed symbolism, a lot of that time has been lost just like the past few years of Strangelands rambling.
I guess that's just how it goes. That's why all your life, you hear people saying stuff like, "Time sure does fly," or asking, "Where does the time go?"
Last August, I mentioned to my sister that there was a house on the market I kind of wanted to look at. She's all about stuff like that, and by that evening, she had spoken to the realtor, who said although she was unavailable, we were more than welcome to go look at the place on our own. When we arrived, the doors were locked, but there was a window open. Another quick call to the realtor, and we had gained amused permission to enter through it.
I shoved my brother-in-law through the window, and he unlocked the door so that the rest of us could explore what would eventually become my home. It's weird, because that night seems like it happened a decade ago, but also only a few weeks ago.
We fell in love with the house immediately--it seemed like it had been built to perfectly coincide with our needs--and we made an offer. The owner rejected our offer, unwilling to drop his asking price, and we figured that was that.
A few months later, as I was driving by--the house was on my route to work--I saw a notice posted on the door of the still-empty house. It was a foreclosure notice, with contact information for the new realtor.
We called, and were told that once they had gotten everything in order, the house would go up for bid.
In December, the bidding opened, and again, we made an offer. It was a close deal--the lady we were talking to wasn't able to say by how much we had been outbid, but it was obvious that it wasn't by much--and once again, the house seemed out of our grasp.
The buyer's loan fell through, though, and in January, the house went up for bid again; this time, with the opening price 10 thousand dollars cheaper than the previous month, which was already loads cheaper than the original owner's asking price.
We won the bidding that time, and were informed that we had exactly one month to get our loan and close on the house. If we weren't able to close by February 28, we'd lose our chance, and the bidding would start all over.
It was a flurry of phone calls, emails, and applications: everything from sending scanned pay stubs to calling the plumber to check out leaks. To be honest, Natalie handled most of it; I was in charge of everything else in our lives, clearing the way so that she was free to research, email, and re-email everything she needed. On one particular evening, I warmed her supper up three different times as she replied to 68 different emails from the loan company.
On the last day of the month, we drove two towns over to close on our house. It was in the middle of a snowstorm. Despite all sorts of worried remarks from coworkers, and suggestions that we try to reschedule, we loaded up and set out through the snow. Because it had been made perfectly clear that no matter what the weather conditions, if we didn't close on the house, the process would start over, and honestly, we weren't sure we could handle going through all of it again.
That evening, we met my sister and her husband at the house again. Instead of walking up the sidewalk in a warm summer rain as we had the first time, we trudged through the snow, and instead of lifting my brother-in-law through a window, we used our very own key to come in through the front door.
For six months, I had driven by the house on an almost daily basis, but hadn't seen the inside since that night the previous summer. And despite the garish paint colors of the interior, and the gaping holes left by scavenged appliances, I once again felt that the house was perfect for us. An office for me, a photo studio for Natalie, a room for the baby, and a huge back yard--large enough for future play with my son, as well as a garden.
"It needs a little work," my brother-in-law said, "But I think we can knock it out pretty quick." We walked through the house, discussing various ways we could improve the house, and by the end of the evening, we were unloading power tools and painting supplies.
At 8 the next morning, I was ready to begin, and by 9, I was already painting my new house as my brother-in-law worked to cover the awful texturing in the front room. March was gone in a flash: the first weeks spent going to work, coming home to change clothes, and heading over to work on the new place. Weekends were fourteen-hour days coating the walls with primer, painting, taping, cleaning. The final week was spent moving and cleaning the old place.
We didn't make it completely out of the old place until last weekend--the second weekend of April. An emergency visit to the hospital--and subsequent stay--slowed us down. Fortunately, we had pretty much the best landlord ever, and he was more than understanding. I spent last weekend cleaning the old place, moving the bricks from my garden, and walking through the empty house, thinking of the many memories made there.
We've been sleeping at our new home for several weeks, now, but it still feels weird. It doesn't feel real. My stuff is here--piled in boxes or scattered haphazardly in various rooms (although I did get my books unpacked and organized)--but it doesn't yet feel like this is where I belong. I feel like I'm a guest at someone else's house, and that at any time, I'll have to grab my stuff and move on.
Today was the baby shower, and the addition of baby furniture, car seat, and stroller does nothing to ease the surreal feeling I have every time I think about this being our house. And it does nothing to ease the feeling of time slipping away--the shower had always seemed like something to be worried about down the line, when it was almost time for my son to arrive.
It was more a concept than an actual thing, a far-away date that I was always supposed to be able to worry about later. But now it has arrived, and the baby will soon follow, and it's hard to believe that so much time has already passed.
It slips away, like I said, and like so many others have also said.
I woke up at 2 this morning, my body aching (it's not as strong as it used to be, and I have forced it to do more in the last couple months than I have done in the last two years), and I thought about how time slips away, and I realized that the only way to try to remedy that is to make use of it as much as possible.
I climbed out of bed and made a cup of coffee--2 a.m. writing sessions used to be fueled by whiskey, but time has passed, and my body can no longer deal with that kind of nonsense--and sat down to write.