Last night, it rained.
We have had the windows open in our bedroom for the past few nights, and the windows in the hallway, too. The breeze is intoxicating, after a winter of being sealed in for warmth...after months of stale heat and dark mornings.
Carl and I have not been sleeping very well. We are neck-deep in this land war with the man who was supposed to sell us our house this year. On the surface, it is all paperwork. Title companies and signatures and loan requirements and certified letters crossing each other in the mail.
On the surface, it is an cold game of chess. The pieces are made mostly of paper, teetering fortresses of files and insubstantial, pale figures that ride through the edges of the playing field...cardboard-cutout knights who can save you or slay you with one slash of a pen. They make a move move; we make a move. Pretty cut-and-dry. No dramatic scenes in courtrooms. No impassioned speeches. No winning of talent shows to raise $20,000 in a weekend. In the end, we will shuffle the right piece of paper and win, or we will run out of moves.
Under the surface, it is not so simple.
Our roles seem to change with every new development, and it is hard to know where we really stand. Are we the Kings and Queens today? Or are we the pawns? It turns out that the uncertainty is the same. You can't see the whole board, no matter who you are, and it isn't as easy to sacrifice the castle when you've planted the gardens there, yourself.
At night, we snuggle into bed with Wendy, secure for the moment in the company of each other. We know that this, really, is our home. Me and Carl and Wendy and Erin. Wherever we are. We know that. But we don't sleep. We have restless dreams. Carl wakes up and roams the house in the wee hours, and I take forever to drift off. I lay with my mind turning it over and over, staring at the columns of numbers in my head...
the savings account
plus the profit from this job he's on now
minus the income taxes that he owes
minus the appraisal fee
minus the bills
plus my tax return
plus the first installment on his next job
minus the lawyer's deposit
plus next month's teaching hours
minus the closing costs
...does it equal a house?
...if we add it up right, do we get to stay?
Last night, it rained, and I slept.
I half-woke sometime during the storm, and I almost got up to close the windows. Instead, I listened to the rain. I breathed in the clean air. I threw my arm across Wendy and rested my hand on Carl's back. The ink ran from my hovering math problems. The numbers smeared...blue droplets streaming away from melted paper-mache palaces...
Then, I slept hard, all the way through til morning, with no dreams.