the old trashy house…

February 22, 2013


I have moved 10 times in 15 years. I know, I know…it’s a little bit crazy but we sort of love it. Finding the next place, meeting new people, clearing out for something different to learn, following wherever we are called to next. We moved while I was pregnant twice, LOTS of times with babies and just once from south to north. It wasn’t until we moved to the magic house that things sort of changed for me. Our big green house brought us out of a time of darkness and into a light brighter than I ever imagined.

Each house previously served as a haven of sorts. I always had an old lady neighbor to walk with and dote on my babies, or a wise friend that sat at my kitchen table, but other than that, it was just us. I lived so much of my life out in the world with kindness missions that I didn’t mind to have one quiet place to return to…one that was just about my family.

I thought when we moved to our big green house things would be much the same…but the house had a different story and plan for us. From the moment we walked in the door, the door just never closed. People and friends dropped by in a way they never had, neighbors and kids were drawn to the swing and secret garden.


Neighbors spent more time talking in the street than in their houses…this told me community was brewing hard and all that was required was to give each other a space so it could grow…so we did. Just the tiniest suggestion, a “…you know what we should do?” sent the plans into full motion. “I can bring this…” and “Yeah! Let’s do it!” were the forever answers. We had chili-cookoffs, beer tastings and girl power tea/tattoo parties, gave out free cotton candy, we celebrated kids birthdays and had one magical hurricane that left us holding the street (and each other) together in a deeper way.


We ate soup together while trees fell on some of our houses, and before we started helping each other with the great clean up, we cleaned out powerless refrigerators and and had a giant breakfast in the middle of the street together.

These people reminded my kids that the world is kind, even when they started to doubt. When their 2 beloved bikes were stolen off the front porch, a knock on the door just a day later opened to a the whole street standing together with 2 more bikes…and I cried like a baby.


It wasn’t long before kids past our street started coming over, mostly just to hang out and look up their Facebook pages or heat up a bag of ramen noodles…but then there were kindness projects to be done so they sat down at the porch table and started painting magic wands or helping me write notes. The house became an unintentional recreation center, one time I counted 17 children in my back yard.


All of this went on, and just became a way of life. I knew it was special but I didn’t think too much about it because we were so busy living it.

Then the phone rang Monday. It was was my very kind landlord who never once raised my rent in 3 years.

“”Patience, we have to sell the house.” he said.

My heart sank but my knee jerk reaction was to be positive. I knew, knew, knew he wanted to sell the house to us and I knew instantly we would not be able to buy it. I could feel how hard it was for him to make the call, for he knew the magic of the house too…he chose it, he called it out, he started his family here and had a baby right in the very bedroom where I now sleep.

“It’s really okay.” I said. “I’m not afraid of change, it always takes you where you need to go…I really believe that.”

And it was one of those times your soul speaks something into being that it knows to be true but your heart hasn’t exactly caught up yet. …but you have to say it, you know it is true,  and you know you will follow it either way.

I got off the phone, looked up a hopeful song…played it on repeat and cried.

The next day I jumped on craigslist and worried about my kids. Where are we going? What will happen next? …and I was sad and all I could think about was Lucy mostly, for she is the keeper of family and community…and she feels things the deepest- loss, joy, fate.

My own questions about the future got the better of me that afternoon. I wanted to just drive by a house I saw listed. I didn’t tell Lucy too much information just that I was going to check something out. She was way too smart and intuitive for such a move on my part.

“Mom, why are we looking at a house? ARE WE MOVING?!” she asked.

I don’t know yet baby.” I lied.

It was as if she and the rest of the kids somehow already knew everything on some level but the energy returned wasn’t anything I expected. They were strangely hopeful.

We rolled up to a very sad looking house. Very sad. Lucy was the first to weigh in.

“OH MOM! I LOVE this old trashy house, I just know we can make it magical!” she said with so much hope in her heart. All the rest of the kids immediately piped in with the same sentiment.

“We have each other mom, that’s all that matters… and there is a SUBWAY right by this house, that is so great! SUBWAY! ”

“We can do this mom, we can make it here! There is a park right there for me to film my movies…”

I forgot. I forgot this was always the mission of our family, to trust the change, to go where we are called…to take with us the magic that the people we love so much have taught us and pass it on…to walk boldly into the next chapter…to make the trashy house magical.

…and I don’t know what will happen next and I am still incredibly sad but I know I have to follow their lead. If for no other reason than to encourage this hopefulness in the world…that in a month or two we may all be crying in our cheerios missing everything we lost but will still find our way…knowing we have each others’ backs.

…and follow all the kindness waiting for us there.

photo (9)

Lucy’s note to the next family lucky enough to live in the magic house…


TONIGHT!!! Don’t forget tonight I will be hosting and telling stories at the Richmond Famous Richmond Comedy Coalition show at Gallery 5 at 8pm!!!  Early tickets ($5) still available here:


Show up at the door and pay $10!

Gallery 5

200 West Marshall Street, Richmond, VA 23220, USA

Hope to see you there!!!

12 Responses to “the old trashy house…”

  1. Jen Bailey Says:

    Oh wow Patience-I feel like we witnessed your family’s journey in the lovely green house and remember all those amazing posts about the Secret Garden, the tea/tattoo party…all the sense of love and belonging. I’m so sorry this is so challenging right now. But here’s the thing-I think you and are family are incredible cultivators of kindness, love and joy. Those are things you always take with you no matter what physical roof is over your head. So maybe a way to think about this is that all that magic is where your home truly is. Holding you all in my thoughts.

  2. brilliant post……stirred my memories nice and proper…..very touching, your best post KG.

  3. Jes Says:

    My heart is just breaking for you – you have loved that house so much and it has brought you so much joy! And even more importantly, your neighborhood has been a source of amazing community. I know you will bring that with you wherever you go, but oh, the ache of transition.

    Lucy’s outlook is fantastic and such a testament to the optimism & resilience that are part of the bones of your family. Can’t wait to see what the next chapter of your family’s story will be.

  4. StephanieS Says:

    Patience, thank you for sharing this. From reading, the first thing I thought was, “perhaps the people in the new neighborhood need Patience and her family and her kindness now. And that’s why they need to move.”

    Sending good thoughts!

  5. Renée Kube Says:

    Your writing is beautiful and poignant, and I’m typing with a lump in my throat. This is sad for us neighbors – not only was your family enfolded into our quirky little community (’cause you’re an awesome fit), but you in turn enriched us immeasurably. It would make my day glow to see a chalk greeting on my sidewalk, or a few tied flowers on my doormat. Please know you’re always part of us and welcome. It may work differently, but here for your family there will always be open doors and porches. And I know your new home will become equally magical (’cause that’s what you do).

  6. pathwriter Says:

    I can so relate to this. I’ve just sold my magical house in my magical neighborhood here in Richmond, before I really intended to and for reasons both practical and of the heart. I’m moving back to my home state of North Carolina, and, five weeks out from closing on my magical house, I have yet to find a house in the place where I’m moving. However, like you, I’m trusting the change and determined to take the magic with me when I go. The thing that holds me up most is the fact that I have family and many old friends waiting for me where I’m headed—and, I’m sure, many new friends to be made. I will be holding you and your family in my thoughts as you travel this next leg of your journey. I’m so glad that, even though I will no longer be sharing a city with you, I’ll still be able to watch your path unfold via cyberspace. Wishing you love to light your way as you step into the unknown….

  7. Andrea Sharp Says:

    Hi Patience, this is so inspirational for me – you have no idea. THANK YOU.
    You probably have saturated your current neighborhood with your gifts and now it’s time to spread them in a new spot. 🙂

  8. Marnie G Says:

    Another beautiful, heartfelt post. Keeping you and your family in the light. I learn from you each and every time I read your work. Blessings to all.

  9. Kelly Says:

    Oh, dear. The magic house. I remember the early days…sitting at the kitchen table, the dining room table, on the front porch… walking through the garden, swinging the kids on the rope swing. What a lovely space it has been for your family, and so many other people in your sphere. I am sorry it is coming to a close. And yet, I know your keen ability to make space, make friends, make community, make a HOME…it really will be great, wherever you land, I believe that… oxox

  10. […] the old trashy house… ( […]

  11. Bessie Wilson Says:

    Change is a way of life and the way you greet it is pretty cool. I will hold your family in prayer as you prepare and pack and move and for the adjustment process.

  12. […] it’s one thing to make hopeful declarations and another thing to have to actually live in the Old Trashy House. There has been more than one Hollywood tantrum (as my sister calls them) this week…and maybe […]

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