The previous owner left a purple chair. It is a nest of eggplant velvet. The back cushion is missing but Bug’s Eric Carle butterfly pillow has just enough puff and color to belong. It fits as if made for the space.
It’s in good company.
I am worthy of all I choose to hold. His whisper tucks itself in around my neck. This phrase is where he trains his mind, he tells me.
“I’m stealing that,” I say.
When I stepped in for the first time with my realtor, the click was almost audible as tumblers fell into alignment. The yes took only as long as one turn through the back rooms. Making a dazed rotation in the sunlit center of the space, I let the rightness breach my defenses. “This is my place,” I told her. “This is it.” It was barely a choice. It was a match, plain and simple. The condo was made for me and me for it. My awareness of this was as close to instantaneous as you can get.
Seven months. The current was strong yet cut with riptides of doubt. When they gripped me, I flailed before remembering to turn and swim parallel to the shore. Keep land in sight even if from a frightening distance.
Now, Legos are strewn like shells across the floor by the sliding glass door. Bug has come and gone, leaving the echo of his stride banging through the narrow hallway. He has already determined the configuration of his room and told me that the spot chosen for my office will also be his spot for playing. He walks over and touches a wall almost the color of oxidized copper. “Here,” he says, “this will be for my toys.”
“Okay,” I say. “That place is yours.”
The first five homes where Bug lived belonged to someone else. We moved before we could even imagine them as our own and so it never occurred to us to claim a doorjamb for his growth chart. Whether or not a record exists, he has clearly inched his way up and out of infancy. The measure of those years is evident on his frame. His shins and forehead bear scars. Giant’s teeth push out into an elven mouth. Spindle legs straddle a bike and push off with feet that jam up against shoes just purchased but already outgrown. Six years have layered themselves upon him like bands inside a clamshell. Invisible when living but there nonetheless, lines mark age as tides ebb and flow tossing the creature inside from deep to reef as it grows.
We have been pulling for so long. Now we run aground and wobble ashore. This blanket, this patch, this beach. Ours. From now and right here, we are fixed (as much as anyone can ever make such a claim). We do not have to wait for a sense of permanence to scratch a furrow and sign our names. When he is next here, we will take a pencil and choose the place. Six-almost-seven will be the hash of our commencement.
The dog and I stay alone the first night after closing. In the morning, I bob up into inky half-sleep knowing exactly where I am. None of the disorientation that accompanies travel greets me. These new walls are already mine. The hum of I-66 outside the window is as steady as the surf. Hearing me stir, the pooch tip-taps in from wherever she spent the night. All the rooms are empty. All the floors are hers for the taking. She collapses with a grunt on the carpet near the foot of my pallet of blankets. I have to go to work but cannot make myself get up. Light creeps across the white ceiling. The leftover black curtains will surely need replacing. Muffled footsteps from upstairs hint at the proximity of community. I swim in awakening. This is my home.
I am worthy of all I choose to hold.
The night before, my Mister came to welcome me. Under the small halo of light from a candle on the mantle, we sat on the bare bamboo floor with our legs in a Celtic knot. He exhaled and traced one arm across the golden dark. “Look at what you did.” Then he framed my face with his hands and a gust of wonder bent his seagrass gaze to me. “This is yours.”
Now, I rub sleep from my eyes and pad into the living room, opening curtains along the way. I curl into the embrace of the purple chair. The word finds its way into my belly as if I’m hearing it for the first time. It expands in there, quivering like a muscle bearing unaccustomed weight. Surging like sea against cliff. Warming like light.