St. Joseph, are you there?

I was ready to give up. I had a very strict price range and a college Visa spending rampage credit rating, so my options were limited. I had shared a wall with my neighbor for 5 years, and I longed for a space in which I could not hear the guy next door peeing while I got ready for work every morning. And then I stumbled upon a little neighborhood hidden on the edge of the city limits. It was perfect: tiny cottage houses surrounded by mature trees on private cul-de-sacs, all a mere mile from one of the city’s main thoroughfares.

The house I went to look at initially was a disappointment. It was out of my price range, and it needed work I wasn’t prepared to do. There was another house for sale in the neighborhood, but it needed twice the work, and it smelled funny. I was on my way home, frustrated and defeated, but as I turned my car around in the cul-de-sac at the end of the street my hopes were lifted. A third house was for sale, a little yellow ” for sale by owner,” and I scribbled the number on a deposit slip and called my realtor. For the next two weeks my realtor tried to contact the owners, but to no avail. She never got a live person on the phone, and none of her messages were returned. Once again defeated, I gave up on finding my own four walls and resigned myself to spending the next several years separated from my neighbors by a few inches of plywood and sheetrock.

It was two weeks after I discovered the FSBO that I found a decent townhouse and was preparing to make an offer on it. I was in the car with my realtor, having just looked at the townhouse a second time, and we were on our way back to her office to draft a contract when her phone rang. It was the owner of the little yellow house. She had just gotten married a few weeks before, and she and her new husband had been on their honeymoon. She returned to a voice mailbox full of messages from my realtor, and she called immediately with an invitation to look at her house. We were less than a mile away and asked if we could come right away. She obliged, and minutes later I walked through the front door of my house.

I knew it was my house the moment I crossed the threshold. I have no further explanation; I just knew. I looked around the rooms and saw my life unfolding there. I went back to my realtor’s office and made an offer, and one month later I was moving my things into those rooms. My rooms.

I would spend the next seven years in those rooms. My beloved dog would play and nap and grow old there, and I eventually I would cradle her in my arms on the floor of my garage as she breathed her last. My tiny kitten would morph into a 20 pound beast of a cat there. I would celebrate holidays and accomplishments there, converse with friends and family over food prepared in my little kitchen, usher in my 30th year on the deck I helped build. I would decide to become a parent there, and after months of heartache and anxiety and joy, my daughter would spend her first days on earth in the tiny spare room-turned-nursery, and I would watch her grow into a little person under the roof of our little house. And one day, seven years later, I would finally decide that the little yellow house had grown too small for my life, and I would watch with thinly veiled sadness as another realtor hammered a “For Sale” sign into the ground next to my herb garden.

I am one of those people who fears that once something is, it can never be again. I will leave this home I have created, yes, okay, but there will never be another home like it. Home will never be the same. And yet. A few weeks ago I followed my realtor into a house, a house in an old neighborhood with tree-lined streets and a community park crawling with rosy little children, mere blocks from one of my city’s major thoroughfares. And I knew it was my house the moment I crossed the threshold.

This story doesn’t yet have an ending, but I think you know how I’d like it to turn out. Cross your fingers, and word to St. Joseph.

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