A year ago today, my family moved into a long-term rental house in the wake of our fire. We’d spent the previous two weeks in a hotel which had its benefits:
Plenty of clean towels in the morning. Enough free shampoo to lather, rinse and repeat. Cheap wine in the lobby each night at five o’clock.
Also, this was the only spoon we had for ice cream. Not too shabby.
But the bright-side dimmed when we realized the hotel was too far from our neighborhood for us to carpool. My teenage kids shared a bed and most nights Jack ended up on the floor.
We missed our dogs. We missed our space. We missed our home.
I knew a rental house would be the answer to all of our problems. Yes, all of them!
Our insurance adjuster arranged a six-month lease for us and a temp-home company delivered loaner furniture and housewares – forks, sheets, toothbrush-holders, pillows. Everything a family of four (and two dogs) might want.
I puttered around the unfamiliar corners rearranging borrowed picture frames on rented dressers. I stowed decorative silk plants in a closet to gather dust and fidgeted nervously, waiting for Bill and the kids to arrive.
Would they feel it, too?
The rooms were furnished but they still seemed empty to me, a lone trespasser in this giant doll-house with nothing familiar to anchor her.
I cooked dinner in a stranger’s kitchen. My family sat down to eat at someone else’s table. Gobble it up quickly! Before the real people come back!
I was Goldilocks, except none of the porridge or chairs or beds were just right.
My point here is not to complain. I realize we were very lucky. We are.
But during our six months in the rental house, I was reminded of the gaping hole between what I think is best for me and what I truly need.
I believed – wrongly – that my displaced family was missing a couch and a living room when what we really longed for were the memories of being on our couch in our living room.
This space between physical and emotional need is hard to describe and harder to bridge.
And yet we try. We fail. We try again.
This is true in writing, too.
I recently completed a draft of a new manuscript and while I have assembled the physical components of a story, I know I haven’t quite shored up the emotion of it. Yet.
My job now is to bring life and depth and range to these characters so that they are not merely rented furniture in someone else’s living room.
I need to make their house into a home.
And if, like me, you’re looking for a book with both a compelling story and deep emotion, allow me – once again – to recommend A Lady in France, by Jennie Goutet.
Then – if you would be so kind – take the next step to show your support of indie writers by reviewing Jennie’s memoir.
We’re in this together, after all; building bridges across the space between, helping each other find our way home.
Congratulations to Renee Schuls-Jacobson, the winner of my giveaway. I’ll be sending her a copy of A Lady in France immediately.
Now go order yours.