Friday was a remarkable day twice over. It was the Modern Love Machine’s 30th birthday, and it was also two years to the day that we started moving in the Modern Abode.
A year ago we didn’t do much to celebrate our birthdays as they were bookends to the larger celebration that was our wedding. The MLM likes a good birthday party though, and bolstered by the success of our wedding reception and the desire to be a better hostess I obliged in doing everything I could to throw him a grand party. It should be noted that throwing parties stirs a certain anxiety in me, partly because of my introversion and partly because I’ve had some bad luck with them in the past. As such, I spent the better part of two months stressing about it.
But either because of or in spite of the stress, everything turned out to be lovely on Saturday. We had plenty of food. The universe gave us the gift of an unseasonably perfect day. And for the first time in my life, I think we achieved the nearly impossible guest list balance — one that blended old friends and new friends with different but complementary personalities. And nearly every one of the 50 or so people who were invited showed up. If I had to do it again I suppose I would rent a porta potty to relieve some pressure off our lone bathroom though.
What struck me with 10 tons of force was how alive our home felt, and how that feeling of life has continued strong for two days now. That’s not to say our 102-year-old home has been without life. We’ve spent plenty of time in it in the past two years. We have dogs to keep us on our toes and regular visitors to fill the guest room. We’ve painted walls and bought grown-up furniture. We’ve hung curtains and planted flowers and rearranged the grown-up furniture to be just so. But even as the MLM and I sit on the porch on this cool June night, sipping cocktails, I’m still overcome by the feeling that the walls are embracing us in a gigantic hug and squeezing us a bit more snugly than before.
Since leaving home for college 12 years ago, I’ve never lived in one spot for more than two years. I’ve only made it more than one year once, in Nashville nearly six years ago. The MLM’s home history is pretty much the same. Passing the two-year mark in our current abode is a milestone for both of us. In that two-year time I’ve often contemplated feeling torn between a love of my current city, where my true love, my beloved house and my life exist and a love for my hometown, where my family and my history exist. I often simultaneously feel completely and totally in love with Knoxville and completely and totally homesick for Memphis.
Is the extra life in the walls an effect of the MLM’s party? Is it the result of a year of marriage? The further cultivation of what are still young friendships for me? Or is it just the side effect of staying put long enough to grow a couple of roots? I don’t know, but when the walls wrap me up in a bear hug, I have a feeling of being exactly where I’m supposed to be right at that moment.
**first and third photos by our friend Mark, second photo by our friend Lauren, last one by me.