Three Things, Day 1: Home, Heartache, Joy

Starting today, I’m sharing three things each day that I’m grateful for. One will be of a personal nature, and two will be pieces of culture that I’m happy to have in my life. Here we go …

There are two kinds of life-changing moments: the ones that sneak up on you and the ones you plan for. This first installation in my new, ongoing gratitude project on the blog is one of the latter.

My wife Alison and I found the house we wanted to buy near the end of summer 2013. We’d been toying with the idea of buying a place for a few months, but we weren’t putting pressure on ourselves. When we found something that worked, great.

Photograph (and fresh paint) courtesy Alison Dezotelle.

There was this little place in Franklin, Alison told me one day. It had a charm about it, and she wondered if we could go take a look. We went that afternoon. 

The charm, in part, came from the crooked frame of the house. At some point in the structure’s history, the foundation shifted, putting things a bit off kilter. Work had been done to stabilize the building and make it safe. 

I agreed that it seemed like a great place, and from there, we contacted the realtor, did all the headache-inducing work that goes into home buying, and before we knew it, Alison and I had a house.

We moved in eight years ago today. It was a Friday, and it was one of the windiest days I can recall. We ordered pizza for dinner that night from the Franklin General Store and ate among the piles of boxes.

So much has happened here since then.

Celebrations. Heartbreak. Renovations. Sheltering in place. Laughter. Gardening. Kids leaving. Kids returning. Walks around the backyard with the dogs. 

So much.

This past spring, we connected with a woman whose grandparents used to live here. She asked if she and another relative could come see the place. Of course she could, we said. 

Walking them through the house and around the yard, their eyes lit up, filled with their own memories from so many years ago. They marveled at Alison’s gardens and congratulated us on the kitchen renovations we’d done during the 2020 lockdown. After visiting for a while, they thanked me for the tour. 

One of the women noted how we hadn’t attempted to fix the house’s crooked nature. I said it was one of our favorite parts of the place. She smiled and said, “The house is in good hands then.” 

Somehow, it’s been a quick eight years and a long eight years at the same time. I’m not sure how that works. But I can say with certainty that I am grateful to have this place to call my home.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Notes On Grief: I read this short but powerful book a couple months back. It has stayed with me ever since.

Click here to learn more about Notes On Grief.
Photo credit:

In June 2020, at her home in the United States, Adichie received the phone call most children dread. Her father in Nigeria was dead. Difficult enough. Compound that with the global COVID-19 lockdown, and she faced a crushing degree of grief. She turned that pain into Notes On Grief

Adichie’s essay-length book put a lot of things into perspective for me at a time when death was making itself known in my own life, and it helped me process what I was experiencing while empathizing with her situation. 

Road to Joy by Bright Eyes: I woke up with this song in my head today. 

It’s built around a melody strongly recalling Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, transforming into a strange march before straying into cacophony, accompanied by the brilliant lyrics and quivering voice of Conor Oberst. Find it on Bright Eyes’ 2005 album, I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning.

One thought on “Three Things, Day 1: Home, Heartache, Joy

  1. Diane Chaffee

    Thank you Ethan. I love reading your journaling. Very well done and special. I would love to talk, or be interviewed on losing a Spouse, on grief. I think there is so much people don’t know that need to when losing their spouse, soul partner. Something to think about.

    Love your old cousin, Diane

    Liked by 1 person

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