Reading the Signs

modern anatomy

We got some bad news. It came in Friday at 5 pm, while we were driving through the Florida back roads to buy the couch of my dreams; the couch of my dreams to put in the house of my dreams in Pennsylvania. We were driving the bumpy black pickup truck, swamplands on both sides of us when the call came in. “They are considering another offer.”

The house that nobody wanted had suddenly turned into a bidding war. After several verbal agreements that the seller was signing the contract this week, this news comes in. I was in turn, hurt and confused. I felt cheated. I had finally found this great lover, this perfect lover with ten-foot ceilings and gleaming original hardwood floors, and suddenly, he dumps me---without warning and kind of harshly. I was reeling. It could be the pregnancy hormones, but I cried more over that house than I did over some of my college boyfriends. We were forced to withdraw our offer, we couldn’t afford to get into a bidding war, especially a manipulated one. I suddenly wanted to be Charley, safe at school, playing quietly with his trucks, instead of this bawling grown-up, with no idea where to go.

We turned around from going to get my dream couch. There was no sense if we didn’t have the house to put it in. All week we had been juggling, rushing from chore to chore, and suddenly, it all came crashing down. This is the scary part of moving while pregnant. Selling one house and buying another means everything has to line up perfectly or we are homeless, and it rarely lines up how you want it to. And then, along the way, we got lost. We rumbled through a little town with boarded-up convenience stores and gator jerky stands. Every other building was a church, no bigger than a one-bedroom apartment with a two-story steeple. The road, while paved, was dusty, brown dirt on both sides. I turned to my husband, “Where are we?”

He laughed. “I don’t know, I don’t know what we are going to do.”

“No, I mean, right now, where are we?” I pointed outside.

He did know the answer to that one---luckily he has a better sense of direction than me. We quickly found our way out, to the bustling I-95 highway and back to our beach neighborhood. But we still don’t know the larger answer to that question. My dad believes everything happens for a reason. “It’s a sign.” He tells me as I cry on the phone that we lost the house. A sign for what though, I wonder. A sign we shouldn’t move to such a small town? That we are secretly big city people? Or a sign that a year from now that house will get flooded, or struck by lightning, and we will be glad we never bought it. It seems unlikely. I have trouble reading the signs.

I’m still hurting, days later. My husband wants to show me other listings, and I shake my head no. I’m not ready. I need time to recover before jumping right into another house relationship. And I’m still not convinced I don’t have one last go round of the city in me. I still feel like I don't fit in there, fit in here, fit in anywhere. I think of this song:

“I change shapes just to hide in this place, but I’m still, I’m still an animal . . .”

And I wonder what shape I will be at the end of all this. Part of me wants to give up on this grown-up business of house buying, go back to renting, being a nomad, an animal. How long can you fight settling down with two kids and a dog?