Wednesday, November 28, 2007

You can go home again

We’re delighted to have son Brian back in Cambria where he grew up. It’s wonderful to have the third voice in the house, along with his laugh, strong back, willing heart and so much more.

And thanks to so many of you for asking how the move in has worked out.

We’ve survived but, no, we’re not finished. At this rate, everything should be where it’s supposed to be by 2015. If we’re lucky.

When you add another person to a household that’s been established for decades — even if he lived in the house before — a couple of things happen.

First, there’s the physical act of bringing his belongings into the household.

It’s been 12 years since husband Richard and I moved into the sparsely decorated abode we built after a fire destroyed the family home. Since then, our feeble attempt at living as minimalists has been firmly buried under all that … um … stuff.

Our entire house, “barn” and shed were crammed full long before we began rearranging one bedroom to make space for Brian’s belongings.

It’s an immutable, Einstein-esque law: Everything has to go someplace. Even when you run out of available someplaces.

Make a game out of it, Kathe. To play “Home-decorating Dominos,” move Item A (probably into a box in a storage area) so you can put Item B into the space formerly occupied by Item A.

Simple sounding, yes. But, since each space already was full, nearly every item switch took us all the way to items F or G. Some moves required the entire alphabet and then some.

By the time we found new homes for, say, 38,592 items, we had permanent backaches, crossed eyes and a total lack of recall about what wound up where.

For instance, I know the sewing machine is now on a desk in my office/guest room, because I can see it. But the box of patterns? The basket of mending? The lidded tub full of fabric? Oh, mercy, I haven’t a clue.

They’re probably in the barn. Somewhere. Sigh.

Beyond the physical readjustments, each of us also is dealing with some wildly fluctuating emotions.

Elation about our reunited family. Angst about making the arrangement work long term. Even an occasional twinge of depression, which often accompanies any drastic change.

Brian, of course, has had physical and emotional stress times two, because he moved out of his old place, lifestyle and job and must adapt to the new ones. He left a host of friends (and free rounds of golf) there to further his career as a chef here, while reconnecting with Cambria buddies and forming new bonds at work.

Psychologist friends tell us those normal emotion swings will fade as old routines are replaced by the new ones.

And there sure have been a lot of the latter.

For instance, we no longer have a guest room, just a Murphy bed in my office. So when a large group arrives for a visit — as happened a week or so after the move-in — a lot of people wind up sleeping on couches.

Imagine a three-night slumber party in a living room paved with four girls from kindergarten to preteen. Or when they hijacked Uncle Brian’s television remote so he’d have to watch “High School Musical” with them in his room ... instead of football.

It was chaotic, high-spirited fun.

Bingo. When husband Richard and I lived alone in the house, it was quiet, mostly tidy (yeah, sure), usually predicable.

I’ll stop short of calling our lifestyle dull because, as a reporter, my life is filled with the unexpected.

But now, the house and our lives are vibrating with variety, hilarity and the unexpected. We all catch up with each other at breakfast or dinnertime. Our excited chatter zooms around the table like the hummingbirds jostling each other at the feeders outside the windows.

Of course, the changes have been hectic and exhausting. We still have a lot of adjustments to make, rearranging and unpacking to do, and keep-don’t keep decisions ahead.

There’s a garage sale to follow, no doubt.

But once again, we’ve learned that family makes a house a home.

And that, yes, you can go home again.

E-mail Kathe Tanner at

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