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#5. And Then We Began...Again.

Who knew that three short kitchen stools and $30 would bring us full circle?

As you know, we’re in this rental…and it is OLD. I mean really, it’s pretty darn old! We had someone out to fix the heater last week (because we think it’s causing a dead animal smell), and the company is having a hard time replacing the broken part because the system is so old. And I told you about the water leak, right? The week after we moved in, we had an upstairs leak….come to find out (after about an hour of jack-hammering through the kitchen floor) that tree roots had grown inside the pipes…popped a huge hole…and the entire downstairs flooded! If tree roots do that, they have been there a long time! I think I showed you the mailbox, too? LOL, right after we moved in, we got a nice little note from the post lady telling us that we needed to clean out our box:

Anyhow, we do like the house quite a bit. I have a feeling it’s going to be a continual project, but Molly is finally tolerant of the plumber since he comes over on a regular basis (she’s had a hard time making friends with anyone since the fire). It’s in a great neighborhood with all sorts of friendly neighbors. It’s safe. There are other perks, which I especially enjoy: I found an old-time Pepsi Cooler that I get to keep…and there’s a fence on the property that’s falling down, which I am pretty excited about! This means that we can make all sorts of cool stuff out of old fencing!

Some things, though…some things gotta go. Like the barstools at the counter. They’re rickety and dirty, and, well, I’ve been on a hunt to find something on the cheap to replace them. The only trouble is, I think that giants used to live in this house because everything is TALL. In the morning, I can barely see my chin in the bathroom mirror because it is so high. Yep, I pretty much only see bottom lip and up. You know our 11 sinks (yeah, I know, I still need to post pics of those so you believe me….there really ARE 11!)? Well, one of them is so high that you’d have to be the Jolly Green Giant to wash your hands in it. And the kitchen bar….it was made for giants or people with really long legs or something. So, I need TALL stools, which are hard to find second-hand. Therefore, I was pretty excited when my friend Jody tagged me in a Facebook post the other week. Some gal who works at the Clearlake Safeway was selling three stools for $30, and I didn’t mind the look of them. Turns out, she didn’t have a tape measure to tell me how tall they were, but I told her I wanted them anyway, because I was tired and I had my fingers crossed that they’d work. I decided to chance it and arranged to meet her at Safeway on the lunch hour.

When I arrived at work, she messaged me – could I please come get them from her house instead? It was raining and she had decided not to bring them to work. No problem, I told her. She sent the address, “4165 Mullin”, and on my lunch break, I entered it in Google Maps. It sounded familiar, but I hadn’t driven around the streets of Clearlake for a long time.

Flashback to 1988: I was still in high school, starting my senior year, getting ready to graduate early and head out on an adventure as an exchange student to Australia. It was the 80’s…and I had all sorts of awesome clothes and colorful shoes. I made a lot of my own clothing, and I remember that my mom always let me buy fun shoes to match. Pink shoes, green shoes, shoes that laced all the way up my legs…you name it. I also had a lot of those really wide belts…you know, the kind we used to cinch down over long shirts? Anyway, in my family, there were lots of trips to the shoe repair shop. When the heels or soles wore out, we got the shoes fixed as many times as we could, instead of replacing the whole shoe. When your belt broke, you got it fixed, too.

That’s exactly how I met Mr. TBG. One day I walked into Gill’s Shoe Repair on Mullin Avenue in Clearlake, and there he was behind the counter where we usually saw his dad, Ed. He was fresh home from college and a job at Edwards Air Force Base (errr, uhmmm….I think he had a girl disaster and needed to “find himself”), and on days when he wasn’t substitute teaching and trying to decide what to do with his life, he fixed shoes. I had a boyfriend, but of course after that first day when I saw him all dirty with shoe polish and behind the counter, I found all sorts of things wrong with my shoes, and made regular trips to get them fixed…or to request special colors of shoe polish...or ask for new laces. I even bought a leather belt that was too big so that I could ask him to make it smaller. Here’s a pic that’ll help you get an idea of what I’m talking about…don’t you LOVE those over-the-knee blue shorts?! Hehe!

Then, I left for a year on my Australian adventure (amazing, to say the least!), and when I came back in 1989, we picked back up right where we had left off, with interactions over the shoe counter. I had turned 18 while overseas (you might not know it, but Mr. TBG is a tad bit older than me!), and so he felt like he could ask me out. Needless to say, there were lots of afternoons spent in the shoe shop, and eventually we got married and moved to Australia…but that is a story for another day. However, here is a photo of what we looked like back then, courtesy of our Australian friends Glen and Larelle, who have been sending us all sorts of fantastic photos that we lost in the fire (Note the fuchsia fingernails…I am sure I had shoes to match those, too! That’s Glen on the far left, and my Aussie sis Karen on the far right.):

***Celebrity Moment***

We even made it into the newspaper! I totally forgot, until Larelle sent us this photo! So fun! Ummm, yeah...Mariah is my middle name - it's the name I used while living in Australia (I told you I was a celebrity!). :)

Okay, back to the stools and 2016 and the whole "full circle" thing.

Sadly, Gill’s Shoe Repair has been gone for a long time. Mr. TBG became a math teacher and then we moved “Down Under”. Mr. TBG’s dad, Grandpa Eddie, got his wings not long after we returned and JAG and CAG were born. Here's another pic that Glen and Larelle sent us - I just have to insert it now, because it happens to be of Grandpa Eddie, Mr. TBG, and Mark - our friend who is letting us live in this house! So fun to get a photo of all three of them together! This was taken at our rehearsal dinner.

Okay, back to the story. The shoe repair equipment was sold. As far as I knew, the shoe shop had become a closed-up building. But the day I went to get the stools was the day I realized it was still there, just in a different form. In fact, I found myself staring right at it….knocking on the door….going inside to help the gal get the stools…from around her living room corner!

It took me a minute to grasp the whole situation; the shoe shop had been remodeled into a little home that held a smiling family. I couldn’t believe it as I found myself standing there, looking at the kitchen counter that was pretty much in the same spot as the old shoe shop counter which had once stood between Mr. TBG and myself, when we first met. I tried to tell the family that I had met my husband in that very room. They looked at me with blank smiles; I am not sure that they understood. But for me, it was huge. We had started there, with that counter between us…with just a love spark and very little to our names. We got married with the thought “we are going to do this”. And there I stood again, quite unexpectedly, 28 years later, with pretty much nothing but a love spark…and the thought “we can still do this.” Full circle.

Life works in funny ways; we know it. My friend Jody, who found the stools, was a high school student of Mr. TBG’s. Her house burned down, too, and that’s why she knew I needed stools. Turns out, the stools are too short. Had I been less tired the night I agreed to buy them, and insisted that the gal measure them, I never would have found myself at 4165 Mullin Avenue, hauling three gently-worn stools into my car…and flashing back to the time where the adventure began…

to the days of wedding garters and kangaroos and college graduations…

of first homes and babies…

of losing loved ones...

of learning how to do new things together like ride mountain bikes….

of holidays and birthdays and fun days…and not-so-fun days….

of toddlers and teenagers…

of cornea transplants and heart issues...

of laundry piles and work loads that we thought we would never be able to bear, but somehow did…

of music pouring from the walls of our treehouse…

of job losses and job promotions...

of first girlfriends and new puppies...

of days of what seemed like silence after JAG left for college...

and days that when we thought, "What the heck will we do when CAG is gone, too?" (Silly, silly question! We are going to rebuild our lives!).

Those, and more, were all the days that led us to Evergreen drive, and the days that shaped our life there for 16 years. 28 years ago, at 4165 Mullin Avenue, I never could have imagined it. In 2016, at 4165 Mullin Avenue, it was a joy to think of how far we had come.

A few days after I brought the stools home, we received the first draft of floor plans for our rebuild. I bought three stools from that gal. The architect (Mr. TBG's college buddy...who was also at our wedding!) drew a kitchen counter...with three stools. Full circle? You bet.

Not many people get the opportunity to start over the way we do. It’s hard, it's confusing, it's exhausting...but I have to admit that it's also kind of fun and exciting. In fact, I think it’s just the same way we felt back in 1989 on that first date.

Let the adventure begin.

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