In December of 2016, we lost our home to a fire. I’ve mentioned it here on the blog because we were afraid it would mess up our first attempt at a home exchange. (It’s kind of hard to exchange homes when you don’t really have one, but thankfully, our exchange partners were wonderful and were okay with coming to the apartment that became our temporary home away from home.) I’ve also written about how our experience has changed us for Tribe Magazine and Mother Hustle. It is one of the hardest things we’ve gone through as a couple, but I believe it’s made us better people. We’ve been through hell and back. We’ve become more grateful. We’ve become more compassionate.
But we still can’t wait to get home.
For almost a year, we have been living in a two-bedroom apartment while our home has been rebuilt. We’ve had some challenges that we had to get used to. The apartment is small. #ToddlerGoodwin’s toys are everywhere. It’s strange to constantly hear the noises of so many other people around you. When it rains, it still sounds like the water is hitting the roof above, but there’s still another apartment over us. The bathroom is right by the door, so I imagine our neighbors can hear #ToddlerGoodwin splashing and playing in the tub during his bath time. The walls are thin, so I bet they’ve also heard him when he’s gotten boo-boos and cried, or when he gets excited and runs around the living room dragging his plastic wagon behind him. We’re right on the main street that runs through our little town, so we hear every truck, siren, and horn.
Apartment living has had some advantages, too, though. For one thing, we have these floor to ceiling windows on two walls in the dining room, which #ToddlerGoodwin just loves. And of course, he loves riding on the elevators to go to the lobby or to the parking garage underneath the building. Or to the Harris Teeter right next door. It has been mighty convenient to just zip right downstairs when we realize we’re out of milk or Tylenol or bananas or need something for dessert. (I’ll lose ten pounds immediately when we move back into our house just because the store won’t be as convenient to get to.) The apartment is really close to one of our favorite restaurants, so over the spring and summer, I would walk and meet a friend there for happy hour almost every Friday. We’ve walked to different places to get ice cream several times. We’ve walked to the barber shop where #ToddlerGoodwin gets his hair cut.
It’s funny, how at just a little over two years old, #ToddlerGoodwin will point out the place where he gets his hair cut. He’ll also point out our favorite breakfast place by yelling “PANCAKES!” when we drive by. He points out our favorite Mexican restaurant by yelling “TIO!” from his car seat. He can spot a sign for Target from a mile away. And of course, when we pull into the parking garage for our building, he sees the Harris Teeter sign and yells “TEETER!” He knows that when he goes to check the mail, he’s probably going to see “MISTER BRUCE!” our friendly concierge. And he knows that “MISTER BRUCE!” will probably talk like Donald Duck and give him a business card to play with.
And then it recently dawned on me… What are we going to do when we go home, and home isn’t above Harris Teeter? And he doesn’t get to press the P2 button in the elevator to go to the car? And he doesn’t have giant floor to ceiling windows that he can get his fingerprints all over?
It actually made me a little sad to be leaving this place.
#ToddlerGoodwin knows where home is. When we drive past, he will say “HOUSE!” He will also say “WANT TO BOUNCE!” because he knows we have a trampoline in the backyard. So he definitely remembers his first home… but when we return, it will be a little different. It won’t be the home that he remembers. The layout will be mostly the same as it was, but it will be all different furniture. And it won’t be the apartment, where he’s lived for almost a third of his life!
I’m probably worrying about nothing. The kid has done fine throughout this whole ordeal. He’s been oblivious to the fact that we went from our house, to a friend’s house, to a temporary apartment, to this apartment. He even did great when we flew to Copenhagen for our two-week home exchange. He’s stuck to his routines throughout all of this and has never batted an eye. He’s also what kept us going when times seemed bleak and we were anxious and frustrated by everything that was going on. We had to hold it together for him.
I might be a little sad to leave our apartment, but I think it’s only because we did so well here. We made the best of it. #ToddlerGoodwin started talking, running around like crazy, playing make-believe and using his imagination, and really blossomed into a little boy while we were here. We moved into this apartment with a little baby and now we’re moving out with a little kid.
Our house is almost done. So much has been happening over the past few weeks. It’s been a relief to at last see so much progress, but at the same time, there’s still a lot that needs to be done. It seems impossible that our house will be finished in less than two weeks. I just can’t wait to go home. We might only be traveling two miles, but it will be the best trip we’ve taken this year!