Little House on the Heide
A New Path

Over gung-bao chicken, M and I exchange updates on the progress we’ve each made in our designated realms: his is the house, mine is the garden, because I’m not an architect and he doesn’t know anything about plants.

“Herr L is going to rip down the asbestos siding next week,” M says, a peanut sliding from his chopstick back into the little bowl.

“Good. Herr P said we need to decide what we want by the end of next week. They can still dig up the trees but they will have to be planted immediately, so we need to wait to hear back from Herr G. We’ll definitely need his help for bigger trees.”

A devilish look sparks in M’s eyes. “If we had the other lot we could plant the trees there…” We smile conspiratorially as the dishes are cleared away, thinking of the vacant lot. We are hoping that the land might not be too expensive, that the Lefts might want to sell.

“But we would have to make sure we don’t block the Rights’ view too much,” I say. “We don’t want to piss them off.” Home-ownership is starting to feel familiar to this child of divorce. Like navigating a life in joint custody, negotiating a place in the middle between Left and Right is a delicate business.

I pay the check and we crack open the fortune cookies. Try a new path, I read. Oh, great, I’m on the wrong path again, I think. I shouldn’t get comfortable here, I shouldn’t have bought a house, I’m trapped, I need to run away… If I let the thoughts continue they will bring on the urge to disengage, to let someone else take over – say, a father figure or a crazy woman. So I think about which trees to plant. Birch or Aspen? Apple or cherry? The choices seem endless.