Just Do It

“Why don’t I ever say no?” I lamented to a colleague after getting a text from a 73-year-old woman whose grandfather used to live in my home and who dropped by months earlier and left a note asking if one day we’d mind letting her see the house. I dreaded giving up an hour of my Sunday to visit with this woman and show her around our private space. I dreaded it so much, in fact, that I forgot about it entirely until sitting down to brunch.

She texted that Sunday saying they were outside, at which point I leapt up from Cafe Bonaparte with a few choice words and raced home with an empty stomach and a bad attitude. Upon arriving I greeted Dee Dee, her twin brother, and their respective spouses.

The bad attitude lingered for a bit, grumbling about our messy living room and the laundry out to dry. But with each laugh, each gasp, each, “Oh my goodness do you remember…” that crotchety voice in my head got quieter while I let myself enjoy the unique experience. Dee Dee described watching wrestling each Friday night with their grandfather sitting — there, right there — right where our big arm chair sits. He’d have a pint of beer, and she and her twin both had little shot glasses of beer to sip. Upstairs, they remarked on never knowing what to do with the “creepy” mini closet over the stairs, either. In the basement they gasped that someone (not us, thankfully) ever managed to manhandle a washer and dryer down the narrow backsteps and into the not-quite-code-height space. They left me with small gifts: An old film box with our address, mailed back to our home decades earlier with developed vacation memories; a new birdhouse, for the same sunken back deck they enjoyed like we do; wishes of good luck as we embark on tearing the house to the studs to build something bigger and more fitting for our future family.

But even more, they left me with a sense of belonging and wonder. This house that doesn’t have central air conditioning, that we’re going to tear down in and spend a year as nomads for, is currently giving me endless amounts of anxiety and frustration and a fair share of tears, is still a home. It’s our home, but it isn’t just ours. It was theirs, it was Francisco’s, it will be someone else’s some day. It’s where memories are made, where wrestling was watched, where grandparents died, where Cappie lost her puppy teeth, where Matt learned some rudimentary but oh-so-clutch electrical skills, where I tried to learn how to embrace chaos and the unknown.

Dee Dee also left me with a renewed conviction that sometimes you just have to do things, even if you think you don’t want to. You go to the gym. You wake up for the morning volunteer shift. You show up – you just do it. And life happens. And sometimes it’s beautiful.


Alicia Amling View All →

Recovering journalist who discovered a life outside of news leaves you time for things like getting angry, cooking and traveling. Plus, hopefully, writing. I’m a wife, dog mom and Washingtonian.

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