To have a second, you have to have had a first. I would like to think that the two trailers we lived in during the summer at camp create two halves that sort of make a whole. Thus making our house in Michigan our House #2.
After traveling up to Michigan to start our new jobs at Intervarsity’s Cedar Campus, we moved into our very own house. A duplex about 15 minutes from Cedar gives us the space a freshly married couple needs without being so secluded from the rest of humanity. After all, Cedarville is a minuscule town that you might miss of you look away for longer than 20 seconds.
We had seen some photos of the place that showed very little, so we were coming in blind. I’d tried to look at the house on Google Maps, but there were trees in the way. So no luck there. Before heading over, Dot warned us that the previous tenant, a man known only as “Tom”, would be by later to get the “fish out of the freezer.” Chesh and I exchanged a glance and shrugged. At least it was only fish.
As we pulled into the driveway, we were greeted by a little house with rickety stairs and a non-functional handrail. Our gravel driveway set us back from the road a bit, which was nice, but unfortunately right in front of a “Doggy Styles” pet daycare (I know, I know, the name is incredibly unfortunate).
Once inside, my nose was instantly assaulted with the smell of smoke. And I don’t mean the nice incense smoke or the rich smoke of a pipe. I’m talking straight up crappy cigarettes. We opened all the windows in response. A quick look around revealed the happy surprise of two bedrooms (as opposed to one, like we thought), with a decently spacious kitchen and a nice sized living room. It was quickly decided that the bigger of the two rooms would take over as our library, and the smaller room would be our bedroom. Glancing in the freezer I realized that the-man-known-only-as-Tom had left more than just fish. The freezer was full of random non-labeled items, and the fridge contained way too many suspicious looking condiments. He had also left stuff under the sink, and a shower curtain in the bathroom, and the smoke alarms in the library were disabled. That at least explained the smoke smell.
The following days were crazy. I tackled the kitchen first, since that’s my favorite part of the house, and ended up with mugs all over the counter. The cupboards had to be cleaned out first, and then the things put away. It was a little bit of a tight fit finding places for everything, and in the process I discovered a 2 broken drawers and an oddly placed corner cupboard. The light bulb was out, so I ended up balancing a lamp in my sink, and opening all the curtains in the house for extra light.
We also quickly discovered that between the two of us, Cheshire and I have too many books and not enough bookshelves. As we began unpacking box after box of books, our shelves filled up.
Piece by piece we moved into our house, hanging pictures, unpacking clothing, and arranging the furniture. Turning this old duplex into home. It’s been a month now since moving in, and I still don’t feel completely unpacked. There are stacks of empty and half empty tubs in the hallway and hidden away in corners. I still find myself stopping in the kitchen and thinking “Where did I put [insert kitchen utensil here]?”
We’ve had some lovely disasters along the way, including a drawer falling apart as I opened it, odd poster placements in the bathroom, and having the next door neighbor’s dog barge in through the front door unannounced. Yet, as we settle in, I’m realizing that all of this is a part of a new life with Cheshire. A new experience in the UP. A new changing me, that’s learning and laughing and failing a lot. Having Chesh beside me makes all the difference, and each day that passes I’m realizing how much I still have to learn about myself and about marriage. It’s a long and beautiful road, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.
Oh, and Tom never did come by to get his fish… it’s still in the freezer.