The Day We Made a House a Home

In the early days of the pandemic, I lived in a five hundred square foot apartment. About three hundred of that was taken up by furniture, and the rest was run by my five cats. My momma and I were starved for space, but too scared to go outside for fear of catching covid. We lived in the upper unit of an aged duplex; our downstairs neighbor was never home to keep his apartment cool so the heat rose and baked us in our sardine can. We had a couple decade old window units that tried their best to keep us cool, but more often than not we would eat meals in our car so we could have well-functioning A/C. “All I want is a house,” my mom said while the food wrapper in her hands crinkled. This had been a dream of hers my entire life, I always said if I ever won the lottery the first thing I would do is buy her one. Being in that apartment made that dream bigger, more urgent, something that constantly itched underneath both of our skins. We wanted walls of our own to paint and put holes in, we wanted freedom from overbearing landlords. We wanted to not be scared of eviction with little notice, which is what had landed us in that duplex in the first place. I crossed my legs to make myself more comfortable in the front seat. I stared out at the countryside we had seen so many times in passing, nothing but vast fields with the occasional dots of trees. “I applied for a grant,” I turned to look at my mom and make a questioning sound in my throat, “A grant, some banks will give money to poor folks to help with a down payment. I know we could afford a mortgage and utilities, but I could never save up enough for the down payment,” At the time it seemed like a pipe dream, but the worst thing they could say was no. We would never know if we didn't give it a shot, and at the time all we wanted was that miracle. “Holy shit! Kitty! We got it, we got it!” my mom burst into my room to give me a hug, squeezing me tighter than she ever had before. She nearly dropped her phone her hands were shaking so much. She seemed to be on the verge of tears so I held her a little longer and bonked my head against hers. From that moment on our life consisted of scrolling through Zillow and looking through the newspaper for any home that fit our budget. We didn't have much but fortunately the areas we were looking in weren't the fanciest. We toured place after place, always six feet behind our realtor and shrouded with our masks. “Wow! This place is so spacious and look at those hardwood floors.” She commented as our feet clacked on the floors. The walls were painted a cool blue, it felt like the living room alone was the size of our apartment. It had four whole bedrooms, and a dining room! It was more space than we could have ever dreamed of. At the time we didn't want to get our hopes up, the place was ten thousand dollars over our seemingly meager budget. My mom's door slammed as we climbed into her jeep after the tour. “I mean, it was amazing, but there's no way they'll ever accept our offer,” I looked at her and told her we never thought we would get the grant either. It would hurt more if we never put in an offer in the first place than it would to be told no. It would haunt us to let this opportunity sleep by. A place that wasn't ancient, not too far from family, and had enough room for all of us. She held my hand and nodded, texting our realtor to put in the offer. The day we learned that we got the house, it felt like someone out there was watching out for us. It felt like a blur, between putting in the offer, signing for it, and moving in. For a while it felt like I was dreaming. It didn't hit me until we were standing there in our new living room, with our second hand couch and great value tv stand, that the house was ours. I remember holding my mom real tight, crying for the first time in what felt like years. We spent the night laughing and celebrating, finally able to eat a meal not in our car.


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