Monday, April 23, 2018

The Office

When we moved into this house, it was so we'd have a place to put a baby. Our old place was 480 square feet; all the living room furniture touched. We had to put our bed in the basement. There was no room anywhere for a crib unless we wanted to put it on the couch, which I think would've been unsafe and impractical.

This house is almost exactly twice the size of that one. Barclay and I took the master bedroom, put a crib in the second bedroom down the hall for Sullivan, and made the third an office.

It was a great office, with a big window looking into the backyard and a bookcase and a desk that Barclay made for me based on a picture I had in my head that he managed to transfer to a sheet of graph paper without losing any of the details. I used to sit in that office and work on my book with the window open, listening to Barclay playing baseball with Sully just outside the window. I used to sit in that office and write hopeful query letters, while Sullivan sat at the desk beside me and coloured pictures. I used to sit in that office working on edits while Barclay sat beside me working on music.

Last summer, though, we moved the desk into the basement. My office has been relegated to a corner of the living room.

We put the crib back up. The office is now a nursery; we'd wondered if it might be someday, though I know we never thought it would happen quite this way.


I've been mulling this blog post over for a while. Words have never been so tricky for me. I want to write it in such a way that makes sense but is still purposefully vague so as to protect the privacy of all the right people. Some would say that's a good reason not to broach the subject online at all, but the fact is: there is another person living in our house now, and we love her a lot, and it would be (has been) hard to pretend she's not here, even if it's just on social media. And if I just started mentioning her with no explanation, that would be weird too. She should be introduced, I think.


Her name is Scarlett. Her parents chose that name, and I love it.

She came to live with us last summer; she was about seven months old at the time. Sully and I travelled to get her, just the two of us (it all happened rather quickly; Barclay wasn't able to get time off to come along). I have a lot of memories of that trip, but the most vivid is pulling over to the side of the road, just five miles away from where we picked Scarlett up, to check that her car seat was buckled right and that she was comfortable and that she wasn't scared. I remember getting out of the car and opening the door and seeing the two car seats there instead of just Sully's and feeling just as shocked as if there was a whole football team crammed in there staring back at me. I had so many moments like that in the days and weeks that followed.

It was a bizarre summer.

(That said, I'm not going to elaborate further on that part of Scarlett's story; it's not my story to tell, especially not before she knows it herself.)

So we've been getting to know this girl, this Scarlett.

She's such a wonderful little person. So quick to laugh, so friendly, so active. Stubborn, strong, outgoing. Hilarious.

Sullivan is head over heels for her and she loves him right back. She is his opposite in every possible way, and I've already seen them balance each other out in a lot of areas. He has taught her to dance and drum and air-guitar and build blanket castles. They give each other a lot of hugs. She mimics his every move. He has introduced her to all his favourite bands. When he cries, she runs to him and kisses his cheek. They make each other laugh so hard that she shrieks and he runs out of breath. He had to get used to her following him around and wanting to do everything that he did, but now he gets mildly offended when she doesn't. And sometimes, of course, they fight. This morning, for example, if you'd walked past our house, you would've heard Scarlett laughing hysterically and Sully screaming, "MO-OMMMMM!!! SHE'S TRYING TO DESTROYYYY MEEEEE!!!" (She pulls his hair sometimes, and she thinks it's funny, and he doesn't.)


Every morning, she comes running into our bedroom with a big grin on her face, laughing and reaching for a hug. She greets Barclay the same way when he comes home from work at the end of the day. She likes to hold my hand in her sleep, and often calls me into her room for that reason in the middle of the night.

We don't know what the future holds for us, for Scarlett. But my parents did foster care for most of my growing up years, and the thing I learned from watching them do that was that sometimes, your job is just to love someone as much as you can for as long as you can. And, I mean, no matter what happens from here, I can already confidently say Barclay, Sully and I will just keep on loving her forever.

So that's where we're at right now. In case you were wondering about the office.