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Marc Mason is a freelance writer based in Tempe, AZ.

Sunday, August 09, 2015  

I had barely turned thirty when Rebecca and I began our search for a place to live. She had relocated from San Diego and moved into the house I shared with roommates, hardly an ideal situation for the new love we shared, but our feelings were young and powerful, and she did her damnedest to make the most of it.

There were other obstacles. My job didn’t exactly pay me a whole lot, and on top of that, I was in debt counseling, trying to erase years of quiet shopping addiction. She had left behind her nursing career, having reached the end of her stress rope and needing a change. It didn’t exactly put us in a position to rent anything opulent, and we preferred not to live somewhere that required a bulletproof vest to go to the car. Everything we looked at in the newspaper made the whole notion feel a little bleak. We weren’t even going and looking at places yet, and already it felt defeating.

Then, one day as I rode my bicycle through the neighborhood, I saw The House.
Situated at the corner of The Avenue and Broadway Road, it was small but intriguing. Two bedrooms, one bathroom – just enough for the two of us to spread out into. And the price on the sign was so low as to barely be believable. I excitedly told her about it and we drove back over to look at it from outside, and in agreement we made the call.

We moved in at the end of August in 2000.

Cut to fifteen years later…

Rebecca and I sputtered out at five years. She left. I stayed on The Avenue. I began living on my own for the first time in my life, trying to decide if that was even worth the effort. (Spoiler alert: it was.) Other relationships filled the void. I wrote my first published comic. I went back and got another degree. Traveled overseas for the first time. Had my first novel published.

And always – always – I went home to my place on The Avenue.

I lived in my Mom’s trailer for twelve years. The place I rented the room in? I was there for nine years. I’m quite fond of stability, as you might guess. But as stories usually progress, there was a plot twist I didn’t see coming:

Her name was Sophie.

To be honest, early on I thought she was insane to even have anything to do with me, yet no matter what an idiot I was, she did not walk away or stab me in the ribs. Where I come from, we call that a “keeper.”

Six months passed, and we were still going. Then a year. We began making noises about living together, but if I’m being blunt? I didn’t necessarily take the idea all that seriously at that point. One, I was perfectly happy in my bachelor pad on The Avenue, and two, I was still expecting her to come to her senses and walk away.

Hell, when we hit the two-year mark, I still had trouble believing that she was still with me, and the idea of having her held for a 48-hour psych evaluation crossed my mind more than once. Still, the whole “move in together” idea still felt more like fantasy than potential fact.
Until she started sending me listings. And we started going to look at places. Suddenly… suddenly…

Holy. Shit.

She’s fucking serious about this shit.

It took two months of soul-sucking, energy-draining searching but we found a house for her, her kids, and me to move into. We signed a lease. We had a move-in date.

Holy. Shit.

She’s fucking serious about this shit.

Moving? Yeah, that eats an enormous bag of dicks. I hadn’t moved in fifteen years. I didn’t even really know what the hell to do. I never really got any boxes, and I own 2000 books! The entire process was a nightmare from which there seemed to be no awakening.

But more than that, it was just painful.

Early on, every day brought a change in the old place that unearthed a memory. I found crafts that Rebecca and I had made when we moved in and decorated the place. I found keepsakes and gifts that friends had given me over the years, some who have gone on themselves, only their faces still in my mind. Letters. Cards. Signposts from a lively, winding road that I’ve traveled since I arrived on The Avenue and truly become an adult.

The House was with me, the one constant through all the stuff I went through. It comforted me to get home every evening, to this place that gave me such a sense of peace and belonging.

Having that feeling slip away piece-by-piece and day-by-day was remarkably painful.
Sure, I was going home to Sophie and my new family every night, but that feeling of comfort was totally absent. It was replaced by fear and anxiety and uncertainty.

For twenty-three consecutive days, I went into the house on The Avenue and removed or threw away some of my possessions, either delivering them to the new place or to the back alley dumpster.

As the end neared and the place became emptier and emptier, I began to let go a bit and appreciate my new life a little more. Finally, in those last days, I reconciled with the loss of the house, because I began to see what I had gained and I began to see that the new challenge my life was presenting was a worthy one. It was not going to be easy, mind you, and I knew I was about to fall on my ass quite a bit, but I became okay with that.

You see, I had to learn to see things from a different perspective. I was so myopic in those last days on The Avenue that I easily lost track of an incredibly important fact:

There had been no question in my mind: I was betting my life on Sophie.

But she was also betting her life on me.

And she was fucking serious about that shit.

9:01 PM

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