Two weekends ago, our landlady stopped by so we could renew our lease. Renewing wasn't a question - we love almost everything about this house and might even buy it one day, if we ever have enough money. While our landlady was here we chatted about life, real estate, and the particulars of the house. "It's perfect," we said. "Everything works great and we haven't had any problems at all." We signed on the dotted line and agreed to another year of bliss.
And then all hell promptly broke loose.
It wasn't anything too catastrophic. First, our stove stopped working. The light would come on, the digital clock kept ticking, but it would not get hot - not the burners, not the oven. Our landlady is prompt and responsible and it was fixed within two days, and in the meantime we treated ourselves to Chipotle for dinner and made our morning eggs via a camping stove on the deck. After the stove was fixed, however, the AC stopped working. Luckily our heat wave had finally broken, so it was only 95 degrees instead of 106, but still - three days without AC in North Carolina in July can feel like a very long time indeed. A repairman came and fixed our unit, and then the stove stopped working again. Turns out the breaker needed to be repaired, and that took another day. All in all, it was a strange series of events which seemed prompted entirely by the renewal of the lease. It was as if the universe was saying, "Are you sure? Do you really want to stay here? Isn't there somewhere better you could go?"
To which we said, "Yes, we're sure. Yes, we want to stay. 'Better' is relative, don't you think?"
I haven't been using Facebook as much as I used to - Twitter and Instagram are my online homes these days - but there is one thing Facebook does keeps me hooked. It's the "On This Day" feature and it pops up every so often when I log in, to remind me of what I was doing last year, three years ago, six years ago, at any given moment.
Lately, it's been reminding me of my life four years ago. I'd just left my job and friends and community in Texas and moved to Wilmington. I was nervous and sad and excited to start my MFA. I wondered if I'd make friends, if the house we'd rented was really as bad as it seemed, if I would finally be able to consider myself a real writer.
It's funny now to watch those moments pop up, to remember how I felt then along with what I know now. Our last house was terrible for all three years we lived in it, but we were happy anyway. Getting an MFA was absolutely the right decision. I call myself a writer, even though some days are better than others. And I am shocked, completely and wonderfully, every time Facebook tells me I became friends with someone four years ago. Only four years of friendship? It feels like a lifetime.
This last year has been a strange one. I have new friends, a new job, a new book-in-progress. Our house no longer feels new - now it just feels like home. I suppose I could say the same thing for Wilmington. When I graduated, I felt as if I'd just arrived all over again - that was how much my life changed after the MFA. On this day four years ago, we had just signed a lease but weren't sure what we were signing up for. Today, I remember those feelings of uncertainty while smiling. Despite everything, it's all working out fine. And when it doesn't, well, we have a perfectly good camping stove just in case.