I fell in love with this house the moment I pulled up. Besides caring for my baby and toddler, finding a place to live during the winter of 2012 was my full-time job. After only eight months in Rhode Island, we were getting kicked out of our apartment. The grad students below us couldn’t stand the constant thudding from newly-walking, chubby feet that commenced daily by 5am. I get it.

On an unusually warm Tuesday evening in February, I drove from Wayland Square to Edgewood to check out an apartment in a big, old house that had been listed just that day. It’s not a nice drive. As I passed my third strip club and then the scrap metal yard, I wondered if I should simply turn around. But when I arrived and saw the wrap around porch, I was glad I didn’t. The house was exactly the kind of mess I love — full of history, charm and potential.

Over the following six years, the landlord became my family, the garden was my creative outlet, and countless friends came for visits ranging from an afternoon to two years. If you were one of those guests, dear reader, or have heard me talk about this house before, you know that it is a special place. It wasn’t the nicest, the cleanest, or the most well-appointed house, but it was the first place that felt like my home in many, many years.

After 18 months away, I’m back.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2018, we put almost all of our things in a dumpster and left a little heartbroken. A massive renovation project unearthed an equally massive, airborne toxic mold problem. What was meant to be a four month project became two years, four months and counting.

As I sit on a new, used sofa nestled between a bay of windows looking east towards Narragansett Bay, I feel at home again. I arrived on the doorstep both times feeling grounded in the present moment, but uncertain about my future and simply unable to see what my life is going to look like in a few months.

I’d like to blame the uncertainty of this moment on COVID19, but that would be unfair.

I stepped into these dark woods without a flashlight all on my own.

I do it all the time.

Being in this house makes even the most uncertain times feel just a smidge safer. Within these walls I have survived divorce, mastectomy, and heartbreak. I have forged life-long friendships, found countless ways to grow, and laughed. This homecoming is not so much a fresh start, but an assurance that I will find more ways to live happy despite the challenges I see ahead.

My becoming, much like this renovation project, might never be over. I take comfort in that this house and I are both an on-going, work in progress.