Jon and I saw the house we applied for on Sunday.

We applied sight unseen Friday – the rental market in Portland is tight – and they said we’d be first in line for the place. (Who knew it would be so hard to find a three bedroom with a yard that will take a cat?)

And this place? It was gorgeous. A huge, brightly-lit four bedroom house in Beaverton that met all our requirements and was in our price range (though was admittedly at the top of it)? Check. Plus, it was only a ten-minute walk from the train station that we’d be taking to work during the week. 

We were already going to ride the train out to my mom’s house to visit my sister who’s in town from North Carolina. They were having a barbecue, and we figured we’d make a day of it. I wanted to see what the commute would be like before we were in a hurry. 

When we got to the station, we started walking. There was nothing to write home about, just suburban streets and wide bike lanes – everything I’ve been craving if I’m being honest

The city has become exhausting for me in many ways, primarily due to Portland’s increasingly violent homeless population. My son and I have been threatened walking home on multiple occasions. Someone’s lunged at me, forcing me to run into the street. The icing on the cake was in April when I saw someone get stabbed on my way to work. The worst part about it was that I’ve become so desensitized, I was more frustrated when I had to stay as a witness and was late to work than I was disturbed by what I had seen

Needless to say, I’ve filed enough police reports this year to be 100% done with my current situation. 

It’s funny the way things evolve and shift as time passes. Moving to Portland was my dream fours years ago – and I did it. I moved into the apartment of my dreams, surrounding myself with high ceilings and big windows and white plaster walls with crown molding. I learned how to date myself. Eventually, I learned how to date other people. Somewhere along the way, I even met the love of my life.

But dreams change. I’ve changed. 

So there we were walking together, and that was when we walked into the park that would take us back home. We were instantly immersed in beautiful wetlands as walked further on the stone path. A footbridge led us over a pond, and not only were ducks in the pond, but there were a dozen of their babies playing because this is the kind of place that happens. A family passed on their bicycles, the littlest one of them has only just learned how to ride a two-wheeler confidently. And then we come out on the other side of it to the street.

It’s like a scene out of a movie I never thought I’d be a part of. It’s a newer suburb, built in the last 20 years. When we walk up there’s a balding dad with a beer belly mowing the lawn, and people are looking at us walking down the street because they don’t recognize us, and this is a street where everybody knows everybody. We can’t hear the sound of the highway.

That’s when we found the house. As soon as I saw it I wanted to cry. This is the burbiest burb there ever was, and I’m watching kids run around outside in the front yard without worrying about them disappearing, and it hits me.

I can have everything I’ve ever wanted.

I have spent my entire life either thinking I didn’t deserve or assumed that I could never have or be part of a family that felt like it was normal in any sense of the word. “Normal” can mean so many things to so many people. but to me, the idea of a family unit that was stable and was there for each other was never something I was exposed to. The way I grew up didn’t fit that mold. I never got what I really needed as a child, and everything was constant chaos.

But that’s not who I am. It’s never who I am. It’s how I reacted to the circumstances that I was born into, and now, I am so much more than that. I’ve done (am doing) the work of overcoming vast amounts of trauma. And it was (is) fucking hard. 

But now I’m here. I have two wonderful kids. I have a partner who is everything I’ve ever wanted, and I can’t stop crying because I cannot believe how lucky I am. I can’t believe how much life is left to live outside of what I thought I had to be. I can’t believe that I get to build a life with this wonderful man who takes me and my mess like it is nothing. And I can’t believe I ever tolerated the behavior of anything, anyone less.

And as I’m standing in front of this house, I realize that I can and am building the life of my dreams, the ones I never dared utter because I felt they were so out of reach. But I am done paying a debt that isn’t mine. My grief for a childhood that was stable and different serves no one, and the guilt I carry for being complicated is useless.

This thing – this beautiful messy perfect thing – this is mine. I have nothing to apologize for. I am allowed to be this happy.

And I am so ready for this next phase.

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