Dearest Dorf Haus (Lisa, Neil, Grace and Cardi the Cat),
Well, as you know, today is my last Saturday. Just like I announced yesterday was my last Friday, and Wednesday was my last Wednesday; my last bike ride home, my last load of laundry, my last Game of Thrones Sunday with our people. Tuesday was my last Tuesday and you get definitely the picture, because we’ve been mourning all week, preparing for this very moment.
I used to think that no grown woman should ever live with friends, unless you’re a) having regular sex with them or b) related in some fashion, because when it inevitably ends in flames, you’re never like, “Well, I’m glad that happened.” But Dinndorfs, together we proved something: We are the only exception to the rule.
From the moment I pulled into the Dorf Haus driveway, after a two-day journey from a ten-month stint in Europe and a 15-hour drive from Jersey, exhausted, culture-shocked and semi-delirious with a two-track mind: food and sleep, you treated me not like a guest, but like family, and that could not have been easy.
You put me up in my very own bedroom with the most incredible view of the arboretum sunsets, set an extra plate at the table and immediately involved me in all Dinndorf Decisions: What should we have for dinner tonight? What color should we paint the house? Wine or beer (both, duh)? So…should we have another baby? Should I quit my job and become a carpenter? Which tie looks better? Where should we go for date night (because I was automatically, don’t be absurd, definitely included in all of your romantic date nights)?
I feel so fortunate to have not-so-silently watched your family blossom into this odd garden of rare plants over the past four months, pushing through some thick mud for sure, but skipping through even grassier meadows and soaking up those paint-splashed sunsets even more. And you refused to let me just watch from the sidelines; you made me a part of it. I became a Dinndorf; part Grace’s sister, part Sister-Wife, part Daughter (I’m looking at you, Bob and Paula).
I know you probably wonder what the hell I did all day while you were at work, and I’ll be honest, I sort of wonder that too, but for now let’s focus on the things we know:
The Saturday Children’s Museum outing with Neil and Grace, the one that took a bit of extra encouraging for me to be a part of after a particularly exciting Friday, where I watched young couples watching their sticky, slobbery kids, Grace out there being her animated, independent self, 800 times more adorable than all of the other kids (and I’m not even biased — she actually is 800 times more adorable than all of the other kids). I turned to Neil, and for the very first time in my life, sort of understood, but still confused myself when I said, “Yeah, I guess I can see the appeal to this whole family thing.”
Or when I ran upstairs to let you two have your moment, and six minutes later, Lisa called me back down the stairs to announce the extremely totally unexpected new life growing inside her belly, and the very different looks on both of your faces.
Or when after a particularly intense session of morning yoga with Lisa, I came home to Grace happily playing with her bop, and Neil had coffee and a smoothie waiting, and I thought aloud, “This is dangerous. I meeeeeaaan, I could just live here forever.” No one disagreed.
For four months, we strangely and perfectly played the three primary colors that make all of the other colors in Life, and it was amazing. I never felt out of place, always felt welcome, wanted even. Some days I was Lisa’s confidant, some days I was Neil’s (after Lisa had to bow out) drinking buddy, some days (most days) I was Grace’s bossy way older sister, sometimes I was all three at the same time, roles interchangeable. In all cases, the neighbors definitely thought something weird was going on.
But in two hours, you’ll drop me off at the Greyhound and we’ll hug our hugs and say our goodbyes, definitely not forever, but forever to this weird little comfortable life we found ourselves living.
And I will miss all of it, so, so very much. Family dinners, lazy Sundays, surprisingly (to all of us) super productive Saturdays, trips to the zoo, the park, Lisa’s actually motivating motivational speeches, my free front row ticket to the Married With Children show.
Cards, thanks for the cuddles I wanted. You know how I feel about those that I didn’t.
Neil, I will miss our at home happy hours, all that whiskey, beer and wine (good lord, I owe you). Your morning notes, resilient attitude, the way you quite literally sing and dance through life. Grace has the best dad, hands down.
And Grace, our gibberish conversations are so good, it brings me to tears I won’t hear your first complete sentence; I can only imagine how intense our verbal interactions will become. I’ll miss your Time To Wake Up early morning routine: open door saying “shhhh,” climb into Tosha’s bed, jump! pretend to sleep, ask T to light candle so G can blow candle out, repeat x4, put on every chapstick you can find, now all the lotion, okay byeee! I will even miss the days you’re just not that into me, make the stop motion with your hand, pout and say, “Nooooo, Tata!” whenever I start singing, dancing, or doing pretty much anything…anything at all. Like, anything.
Lisa, your creative energy is unparalleled. Watching you teach middle school was inspiring and heartbreaking; after more than ten years, you still truly care, though you have to jump 74 hurdles to get through your day. You have this spirit that refuses to falter, even when it is trampled by turtles and students and everyday life. You’re a phoenix, breathing new life into everything around you. Like I always say, people don’t need much, but everyone needs one Lisa in their life. If this is starting to sound like a love letter, that’s because it is. Thanks for being truly the best friend anyone can have.
Thank you for sharing your water, your electricity, your house, your food, your toilet paper, your coffee and your booze. I will never be able to repay you for the generosity you’ve extended me. Not through all the wallpaper removing, vacuuming, leaf blowing, raking, weed pulling, wall painting, scraping, spray painting outdoor furniture, cat shit scooping, fish feeding, plant watering in the world. Because that isn’t what this was. It was just you, helping out a friend.
And believe me when I say, if the Dorf Haus is ever in need, I’ll be there.
I know I left a million things out that I meant to say, but I was kind of drunk last night when I started this, and kind of hungover this morning when I finished it, and I have to start this long walk tomorrow. Besides, everything I would have said, you already know.
You guys are my favorite.