Just over a year ago my parents bought a house. It is beautiful home, with high ceilings and polished wood floors and windows for days. It is almost entirely furnished with plush leather furniture purchased in consignment shops. When I visit now, we take a tour of my father’s favorite second-hand stores and search for beveled mirrors and muted rugs, dressers made with weathered wood.
And then there is the view. A perfect view. A panoramic swath of mountain. White in the winter and twenty shades of green in the summer. It is a home. It is a home my parents worked all of their lives to own.
They looked for five years in the same, small town before they found it. A year after living there my father still points out all of the houses they visited and my mother rolls her eyes and catches her breath, pleading with him to stop. Two offers fell through before this one, and that summer my mother told my father that if they didn’t find anything by the end of the season, it was time to move on. They saw it on a Saturday afternoon in late August; it was theirs the following night. They say they walked in, took one look around, took one look at each other, and that was that.
When I visit it is one giant exhale, a softening of the skin around my eyes, and the space just below my left breastbone. The space feels sacred. Built on years of sacrifice and planning. And it is that awareness that fills me with gratitude every time I walk through the door, every time I head to the fridge and pull out a bottle of wine and stand in front of the window and stare, each time I nestle into the couch or climb into bed. My parents worked for that home all of their lives and because of that, it means more. It was never a given.
I have come to understand, hard-won things mean something entirely different. Better.
The thing about struggle, is that it inversely affects entitlement. It engenders gratitude and increases value. It gives shape and provides context. And yet we live in this culture that espouses ease and convenience above all else.
Sometimes I wonder who I will be when I visit that house ten years from now. I wonder where I will be living and if I’ll have published a book. I wonder who will go with me, if I’ll have small children, and whether we’ll be happy. I used to wish for it all sooner. The answers, the straight path, the ease. But then I think of that house and how much it means and how some things are worth not only the wait, but the struggle of that which comes before. And even on the nights when I crawl into bed, my heart breaking just a little, I can't help but think, Damn, if this isn't all so lucky.