"A dull ache - that try as you might to think it away, to convince yourself that she wasn't really the right [house] for you - just won't leave you in peace."
- Eric Weiner from The Geography of Bliss
Looking back at my whole life I can honestly say that I have no regrets. There have been plenty of mistakes, each of which I have learned a great deal from or in the end have turned out to be tremendous blessings.
I actually used to say the above with absolute certainty, but currently I am experiencing one regret that I just can't seem to shake. I can't reason myself out of it. It consumes my thoughts as I drift off to sleep or in the few moments before I come fully awake.
Lets get one thing out of the way, I am selfish, I know I am selfish. I want it to be all about me all the time. Ironically this regret comes from one of the few moments that I made a completely selfless decision. I chose to put my one greatest, longest lasting desire aside so that my family would be happy. And I now regret it... WOW that sounds so horrible!
So, what is this great regret...
It all starts about 24 years ago. I was almost six, and I loved spending time with my Grandma Barron. Her house was a kids greatest play place. I remember walking through her massive yard and asking the most innocent question, "Grandma, when you die can I have your house?"
My love for her home only grew over the years. Due partly to the growing love for my grandma that only maturity can bring, and partly by the fact that I was able to appreciate the peace and serenity that it exuded.
Years later when I was planning my wedding, the only place that would be perfect enough would be her house, and what a wonderful setting it turned out to be!
A few years later, my grandma decided that the house and yard were too much for her, and she was ready to move to something smaller. After my aunt decided that she did not want to buy the house, the offer was extended to Brian and I. It was an offer that would have, should have, been impossible to pass up.
My dream was coming true, I was going to have the house I had always wanted!
After much discussion with Brian and Madison, it was clear that neither shared this desire with me.
It would require complete remodeling, the yard would require an enormous commitment, the ponds were a hazard to a toddler. We would be married to the house and yard, giving little time for the out door excursions that the family so enjoyed. We would live on the opposite end of town from the schools we wanted Madison to attend. We still had work that needed to be completed on our house before we could sell it. All of this and the fact that Madison and Brian did not want the house made me commit one of my most selfless acts. I decided to put my desire to the side, and choose what my family wanted instead.
We did not buy the house. A few short months later it was sold to a family with 4 children, forever securing the house and I's separation.
As we moved my grandma out of the house, it seemed that I was ok with the decision. That my attachment to it was not really an attachment to the house, but instead an attachment to the memories I had vested in the place. Walking through it empty, if felt different, it felt less desirable.
I have thought that I was really ok with this decision. Until we started looking at houses in the small town where we (all of us) have wanted to live. Any house that is in our price range in that area is one that will require complete remodeling and an enormous commitment to the yard. And they are priced 50,000 more than what we would have bought my grandma's for...
The cocoon that I had hid the regret of not buying my grandma's house in, has been shattered.
The opening quote is from a section where the author is talking about homesickness, and the desire to return home. It fully captures my current state of being. "A dull ache... that just won't leave me in peace."
So how is it that a choice of selflessness could continue to bring me such discontent. Maybe that is the truest form of selflessness. Can a decision truly be considered selfless unless it cost you dearly? If so, how long must I suffer??
Learned? My hope is that sometime in the future I will find myself living in the home that is the dream of my entire family, and I will look back on my selfless decision and be able to say with confidence "I have no regrets."