I have the craziest story for you. A tale that will have you humming "It's a small world after allll" for the rest of the day...and *maybe* believing a little bit more clearly in being connected deeply to things we cannot see, touch, or understand.
We recently moved to Kirkwood, Missouri. A suburb of St. Louis - actually the first suburb of St. Louis - known for it's historic downtown, Farmer's Market, shopping, and old home oooing and aaaaahhhing.
Let me back up a little bit. The house we moved into August 1 we found February 1. It was the first house we looked at .... AND WE AGREED ON IT. <---First world miracle.
It had been on and off the market for 5 years, and went off the market the day after we toured. I panicked. "Did it sell?!" Nope. This was just the seller's M.O. She bought it in 2005 for A LOT of money that she couldn't recoup.
Fast-forward through billions of hours on Zillow, 60some house showings for us and our house finally sells. We still like house number 1. Our real estate agent extraordinaire, Lizzy Dooley, tracks down the owners of the off-market house we looked at Feb 1 since their real estate agent won't return phone calls. Throw in a stressful and overwhelming inspection at house number 1, relentless negotiations, more house tours, more negotiations, husband being "DONE" with house number 1...and I still just couldn't shake the sense that this first house was supposed to be ours.
I would have been TOTALLY fine finding a house I liked more and buying it....but we just didn't. After looking at more than a few homes husband agreed. We weren't even totally sure WHY we liked this one so much. Even our kids would say, "I like the Spanish house better," (it has a Spanish tile roof) after looking through homes with more square footage requiring less renovations.
Have you ever just KNOWN something? Like deep in your gut? I'm not talking about WANTING IT REALLY BAD....I'm talking about that eerily calm feeling of just knowing that's where you're supposed to live, or that's who you're supposed to marry, or that the baby in your belly is a girl before the ultrasound even happens.
From the moment we moved in to the smelly, dirty, sorely-in-need-of-renovations place we LOVED it. I would lie in bed at night breathing 90-year-old plaster dust and paint fumes and tell my husband, "I have feelings for this house."
It was true.
I also had feelings for Kirkwood in a way I haven't had feelings about a town since Plymouth, Michigan--where I grew up. I still have dreams about that house. If you're keeping score I have had exactly zero dreams about other homes I've lived in.
While walking through downtown Kirkwood one day I saw a black pillow embroidered with a white "63122"--Kirkwood's zip code-- through a shop window and I seriously wanted it for my couch. Super odd.
Don't be surprised if the next time you see me I'm dressed in Kirkwood gear from head-to-toe, sipping out of my Kirkwood coffee mug, and looking at you through my Kirkwood sunglasses.
Within weeks of moving here I felt this way and I remember driving down the street thinking how STRANGE this is...feeling like this town is MINE....like I belong here....feeling so AT HOME....when I JUST MOVED IN. It all felt simultaneously new and not new at all.
Two months later my Dad came to visit. He's a man of few words, and especially doesn't have much to say on the phone. I wonder if his big old ears can hear me through that tiny new cell phone.
When I'm with him I try to ask him about the past because he usually has more to say about the past than he does about what's happened recently.
My Dad grew up in St. Louis, but hasn't lived here since before I was born. I know he lived closer to downtown (by The Fox) as a kid and then his family headed to North County and he graduated from Hazelwood High School. We'd visit his relatives who lived near the airport and in Maryland Heights when I was young, but we never came to Kirkwood. WAY other side of town.
I said, "Dad, what do you know about Kirkwood? Did you ever hang out here?"
He said, "Yeah. My great-grandmother lived on a farm in Kirkwood."
WHAT?! I had no idea. He couldn't remember her name, but he did remember she had chickens and cats and lived in a big house near the railroad tracks. He remembered she outlived 5 husbands and her last one she called "Mr. Proffitt". She also had a speech impediment (maybe a tongue tie?) so when she called the kitties it sounded more like, "Here titty, titty, titty." Hardy har har, Dad.
I thought, "A farm near the railroad tracks? There's just not many places that could be. It has to be close."
That night I went a little Sherlock Holmes. I jumped on Facebook and asked my Dad's cousins for info. Within minutes I'd gathered that her name was Ida Mae and had a good idea of some of her husband's last names. A few hours of scouring death certificates and census records online later....and "EUREKA!!!!" I found her address, google-mapped it, and the picture above is what I saw.
My Great-Great Grandma, Ida Mae, lived 6 blocks from where we live now. SIX BLOCKS. The blue dot is my house, the red dot hers. DIRECTLY SOUTH. I don't know why that creeps me out a little bit...it's a straight line out my back door.
My littlest and I walked there the next morning. The house is no longer there...just a fenced in storage area in a now somewhat industrial space. There's a Crossfit place next-door.
Why am I telling you all of this? I don't know!! I can't stop telling the story! There's no point, no big ah-ha's, no moral...but what are the odds?
And, as always, I do highly recommend you get your happy back. If you live somewhere that's not your kinda place surrounded by people that aren't your kinda people feeling feelings that are just not how you wanna feel...just start asking yourself, "How can it get better than this?" and the pieces of the puzzle of what's right for you will start to come together.
You don't have to have the answers, you just have to start believing that something better for you is possible.
I've learned that how I feel about where I live is important to me. And as if there wasn't enough confirmation we'd made the right *move*...it sort of feels like being able to walk six blocks in a straight line out my back door to where my great-great-grandmother's house stood is just another big, creepy, other-worldly, there's-no-such-thing-as-coinky-dinks validation.
"Siiiiigns, siigns, everywhere a sign,"
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