Today was a big day: the day we returned to our house.

We’ve been home in California for five days now, but between jetlag and catching up with family and friends, we hadn’t actually been Home to our house until today. But early this morning, we set off into the fog in a car laden down with many bins and suitcases, heading for home. Our agitation increased as we made the familiar half-hour drive, and at last, as we turned the final corner, I could hear the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey playing somewhere in the back of my mind.

Of course after all that buildup, the actual experience couldn’t help but be slightly anticlimactic. I’d forgotten the quintessential curse of being a homeowner: no matter how good it looks, you only see the things that need to be done. So the brand new dusky blue paint on the outside only served to highlight the wretched state of the garden, whose dry, blasted earth looked like the gophers had reenacted all the great battles of World War I on our doorstep. The interior paint — which is blessedly simply white, after all that agonizing — also looks fabulous, but provides a lovely backdrop to the dingy, dated tiles on the kitchen counters. Sigh.

As we wandered the echoing rooms, we reacquainted ourselves with the boundaries of our lives here. And so far, they are much, much bigger. We’ve gone from a tiny two-room apartment to a long, low three-bedroom bungalow, whose dining and living room encompass most of our entire Portuguese apartment.

Thankfully, before too much time had passed, the truck bearing our container of belongings arrived. I had a strange sense of deja vu, as we waved goodbye to it almost exactly a year ago, on a morning just as foggy and cold as this one was. The driver even remembered us, and said, “Hey, you said it’d be about a year!” On rolling up the door, we found everything much as we left it, with plenty of things (cleaning products, packing materials, sheets and mattress) stuffed in at the last minute.

We made a desultory effort at unloading a few boxes, but before we could get too tucked in, lunchtime arrived, along with a dear friend of mine, and Gabe had to head off for his first meeting back on campus. Faced with the prospect of summer traffic at the other end of lunch and meetings, we reluctantly called it a day, but are newly determined to go back and make a proper dent in the unpacking tomorrow. Both of us are eager to get moved back in, tired of living out of suitcases, and very ready to resume our lives.

(Will post pics later…)