“Ma, the house is ours!” I cried as soon as my mom picked up the phone. It was our weekly how-are-you-what’s-going-on phone call on my drive home from work two Fridays ago. “Dennis got the keys to the house this morning,” I said. “It’s officially ours.”
“Congratulations!” My mom said proudly. “I am so happy for both of you.”
“I haven’t been sleeping lately,” I said. “Everything is happening so fast.” Truth is I am a pendulum nowadays, swinging frantically between excitement and terror. I am consumed by a million worries. We have crunched the numbers over and over and buying the house just makes real sense but I, the perennial pessimist, am plagued with so many what ifs. It is a big change, a huge commitment that I am, obviously, not taking lightly.
“I think it is my karmic duty to sell the house to someone who will care for and love the house,” the seller said when she read our letter. We wrote her about our edible garden and our chickens when we made her an offer. The ranch-style house made of brick and redwood, surrounded by gardens sits on a quiet half-acre lot not far from the city in the Oakland hills. There’s plenty of room for family when they visit. Plenty of room for Stanford and the girls. For bees, for an orchard. The seller grew up in the 1950s house with a corgi named Rudy. She used to ride her horse in the hills when she was young and Rudy with her short legs would tag along everywhere they went. When she learned about our Stanford she took it as a sign to pick our offer.
“We’re moving in a week,” I said. “I wish I could be there to help,” my mom said. She was visiting the summer we moved to Oakland and was a big help with the cleaning and the packing. Dennis and I have moved so many times in the past that packing plates and boxing books are skills we have honed. The biggest unknown this time around is the chickens. I still don’t know how we’re going to pull it off but Dennis is confident that the girls will be fine.
“Jun, don’t forget the rice and salt,” my mom hurriedly said before our goodbyes. “Yes, of course. We’re taking a dozen eggs from the girls along with the rice and salt to the house tonight.” I said. My family rented and moved three times before we could afford a house that we called our own. Filipinos say taking rice and salt to a new home brings prosperity. For me, it isn’t superstition. It is a tradition, a reminder of who I am and where I am from.