I love Addie Zierman for so many reasons. She is full of heart, grace and frank humor. She is passionate and careful about her craft. She expresses my tension with the church with grace, hope and honesty. Her words move me to tears on a regular basis. But more than all of this, which would be enough, she has become a friend. She is one of the only reasons that I have ever considered moving back to the midwest. Enjoy friends
My mother-in-law has been planning her dream-house for years and years, and this winter, they built it. They selected the exact floor-plan that they wanted, hand-picked every surface, every cabinet, every light fixture, floor, knob and window treatment.
When we went to visit, the house was gleaming white new – not one ounce of clutter or Ninja Turtle toy underfoot. Not one finger smudge on tall, gorgeous windows. Not one streak of blue crayon on the brand new walls. The carpet under my feet was soft and unstained; the wood floors shone like a mirror.
When we drove home and walked into our own 80’s-style house, I felt a flood of discontent.
We’ve lived in our house for six years now. Things are starting to fall apart.
Paint is chipping and the carpets are stained. The new coffee table that we bought from Becker Furniture World when we moved in is covered, now, with scratches from dog paws and matchbox cars. There’s mildew in the tile grout that no amount of scrubbing with toothbrushes and bleach can get out.
This year, we managed to accidentally crack off two of the arms of our bedroom fan. So there’s that.
The 80’s-style cabinetry and fixtures and spindled railings didn’t bother me when we moved in six years ago. In those first days, the house felt entirely perfect, and I looked at it with eyes full of stars and possibilities. I hardly noticed the bulbous kitchen light hanging down like some orphaned planet.
But now it’s like I can’t see anything else. I don’t know if its age or if it’s simply that glittering First-World need for Pinterest-worthy rooms. Perhaps it’s something as simple and timeless as envy and comparison, but I want new cabinets. I want new lights. I want to rip up our carpets and put in new ones.
Spring is coming and I want giant new windows and I want to purge the toys. I want to get rid of the clutter. I want that new-house smell. I find myself clicking through photos of immaculate homes and bright, uncluttered kitchen at night, and it’s house porn. I know it’s house porn. But I can’t seem to stop looking.
I wander around, looking at everything that’s driving me crazy, and here is the truth of the details: these are the marks of a full, beautiful life.
Here is my apron collection. I can tell you who gave me each one and when. Here is the bonsai that Andrew bought from IKEA when we still lived in our Plymouth apartment. It’s a little dusty and leany, but it’s still alive, and so are we…even after all the things we’ve lived through these past ten years.
There’s a stack of books on the shelf – my book. The one that I wrote and published. The one that changed my life. On the carpet, a Ninja Turtle, and whenever my two-year-old grabs it he shouts, TURTLE POWER! The green heart collage is one of the many pieces of artwork that my four-year-old son has taped to his bedroom walls, and it’s nothing that anyone will ever put on Pinterest….but it’s his own special gallery. He has surrounded himself with his art, and at night, he looks at it until he falls asleep.
Here is the laundry, folded and waiting. My open Bible left on the scratched-up kitchen table. A cup of animal crackers abandoned on a chair. My library bag hanging on that ugly, spindly post. We are right in the midst of this thing. Life. Living. Loving. Family.
The windows have new white curtains that I hemmed too short on accident – but I hemmed them by myself – my first time ever. On top of the fridge, there is a giant sheep that belonged to my husband when he was a boy and a Nerf gun that my kids keep trying to kill each other with.
There’s an empty Bug Juice bottle that the neighbor girl gave Dane. There’s a truck magnet on the doorknob because he just figured out about magnets and metal and how things attract. The stains are ugly and terrible, but I still wouldn’t get rid of the dog – that furry little thing who looks at me so solemnly and curls up behind my knees at night.
Here is the Batman hat that Liam loves. Here is the dinosaur birthday present and the Turtle books from the library. Here is the light box that helps me stay well in the dark winter months. Here are the bathtub toys, hanging.
I still want new cabinets. I still ache for clean in the way that only a person with small kids and entirely too much to do can. And yet, these are the details of my life. It looks like a mess, but really, it’s a hundred thousand stories – every scratch, every crayon mark, every broken bit of this beautiful old house.
We’re alive and we’re together and we’re home. We’re becoming who we’re going to be. We’re leaving a trail of beautiful, random things underfoot.
Addie Zierman (@addiezierman) is a writer, blogger and recovering Jesus freak She recently published her debut memoir, When We Were On Fire through Convergent Books. It was named by Publisher's Weekly as one of the best books of 2013. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and two sons and blogs at addiezierman.com.
You can check out the other de(tales) (so far) here.