Tag Archives: Husband

How Does Your Garden Grow?

All little kids know that crashing your parents’ bedroom first thing in the morning is inexplicably awesome. When I was that age, I couldn’t wait to invade my parents’ room to get my first hugs of the morning and snuggle. My mom set up a password system for me, though: she’d say, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” And my response: “With silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row” — this in a certain half-singing way. If it wasn’t just right, I had to re-do it in order to get my pass to enter.

Of course, gardens are an all too familiar part of my reading life, starting with Adam and Eve, moving to The Secret Garden, and most recently in Standing at the Crossroads. But up until recently, how actual gardens grow in my life is not well; my black thumbs have killed successfully just about anything that comes from a seed, including one or two cacti (!).  The only green item that survived my care was some lucky bamboo purchased for my first apartment, and it lived on for at least seven years before our move to Alaska.  (Maybe the bamboo and I had a special Asian connection?) Continue reading


Husband recorded this movie via DVR somewhat recently — December, I think. I knew vaguely what the movie was about, and I had read about The Scene (that is, the stunning montage of the couple’s life together, from childhood throughout all the years of their marriage) in The New Yorker, so I sort of knew what I was in for. Husband was excited because we enjoy Disney movies, and he thought it would be a fun one to watch before bedtime. We were particularly excited about the dog character because of our own beloved Sounder. The movie started, we made it through The Scene within the first 10 minutes of the movie, and both of us were in tears.

I cannot do The Scene justice in trying to describe it, so I won’t. I will say that the movie itself and the simple essence of their life together has been on my mind lately. Yesterday we went to a seminar for homebuyers so we can start that process in the near future. It seemed like the right thing to do, since we will be first-time home-buyers, and as we sat through all of the important information, I couldn’t help but think that I wouldn’t want to be doing this with anyone else. “Doing this” being thinking about a home and getting ready for a family of our own someday. I know that part of the reason for our tears when we were watching Up is because they grow old together so easily and with such joy. I knew that we would get married even when were dating long-distance, because I used to have dreams where we were both old and crotchety and still side by side, talking and laughing and bickering as usual. So watching this animated, hyper-speed length of a married life somehow seemed familiar, like we are already on a similar happy together road.

Suffice it to say that I am lucky, and we are happy, and that I am thankful each day that we belong to each other.


Growing up in Ohio, home for me was our 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath house in the suburbs. Approximately 12 miles away from downtown, and mere minutes away from school, the mall, the post office, the library, the dentist, and the park. Home = house. Forever safe, forever the same. Phone number and address permanently emblazoned in my mind.

When I went away to school, the idea of home had to be redefined. Now I lived in a dorm with a roommate and two floors worth of more roommates. Now all the people who were my support circle in high school were all experiencing their own re-awakenings all over the country at college. So I lived in my freshman dorm for a year and then moved into my sorority house for the next three. But since the people I belonged to — my non-family family — lived all over campus, the collective community of Stanford became my home. Home did not equal house; home = being surrounded by people who were loving, knowing, and shaping me during those formative years.

Post-college I lived in my own apartment in Campbell, which is really just an extension of San Jose. Suddenly college friends have their own lives and jobs and careers to start. Mom and Dad still live back at original Home. And I am working, experiencing the highs and lows of my first year of teaching, plus the odd freedom of not having a roommate for the first time in five years. Still have friends and now have colleagues who are growing into friends. Back to home as a physical space: home = my own 1-bedroom apartment.

When now-Husband first moved into my apartment, we struggled. Not because we didn’t love each other, but because I didn’t make physical space for his arrival. There was nowhere to put his clothes or his stuff, and God forbid that I do any kind of rearranging of MY things to make his transition easier. I didn’t know how to negotiate our physical and emotional space, now that we were finally together in the same city instead of doing long-distance. That was a known quantity, and this was brand new. Needless to say, we moved into a different apartment six months later, and even though it was smaller, we created our home space together. We were much happier. No more  sharing My Apartment with him, but living in Our Apartment. New home once again.

Now we are living in Alaska. Initially, we crashed at his parents’ house — a beautiful space, but far away from town and not meant for us as a married couple. Live with in-laws?? At the present time, we are house-sitting for his aunt and uncle in a 4-bedroom attached condo. It’s new and it’s clean and spacious… but it’s not home.

Physically, we are home-less, and we’ll have to make decisions around that in the not-so-distant future. In fact, we are attending a free home-buying workshop this Saturday to arm ourselves with much-needed information about our options here. But honestly, since the second we have shared the same space, even in My Apartment, home = wherever and whenever I am with Husband. I should add Husband plus Dog at this point, actually. There is a love and security that surrounds me whenever we are together, even when we disagree, and most of all when we are laughing together. I think that was the hardest part of moving up to Alaska at separate times: living in Our Apartment without him. I was existing in our physical home without my emotional home, and it made my heart hurt. Literally.

As a teacher and in my role at school, I am privy to knowledge of students who are living in broken homes, and that also hurts my heart. At the same time, it makes me ever so grateful for the Home that Husband and I continue to build together, each day that we are married, and throughout all of the moments of transition and adaptation and cold. I certainly believe that the space we eventually call our home will earn its importance in our lives, but for now I am content with this Home.

*For the record, Mom & Dad’s landline is listed permanently in my phone as Home Home; it deserves that distinction.