When we first got married, I think we rented the tiniest apartment in Columbia. One bedroom, on the ground floor.
Actually, it wasn’t even the ground floor, you had to walk down the stairs to get to it.
So basically, the basement floor.
It had this small little kitchen immediately to the right when you walked in, a living room-ish room to the left, the bedroom behind the living room and the bathroom behind the kitchen.
That was the whole place.
Tara Apartments was the name of the complex, I’m sure it’s been torn down and replaced by something much cooler by now.
I remember some really good things about that little place.
We got pregnant with Kamden, now a freshman in high school. We brought home wedding presents that made us feel rich. We watched KU lose to Syracuse in the national championship on our tiny TV (as Mizzou fans, we’re used to cheering against KU in the championship instead of for our team).
As with all seasons of life though, I remember some hard things too.
Like the time we got in a massive fight in the parking lot. After she got out of the car that night, I started punching the steering wheel of my old Chevy Blazer.
Cool guy (me) missed with one of the tirade-filled punches and hit my windshield with my left fist and cracked it.
Or the time we had a good friend over and the air was so thick with tension from a different conflict that we ended up asking him to leave. Or maybe he volunteered to leave after hearing our fight through the paper-thin walls between the bedroom and the living room.
Either way, it was embarrassing.
But there were plenty of funny memories too.
Like Brooke craving a pot pie when she was pregnant. At 11pm. So after the first Walmart run to get that hot, gooey goodness, she asked for another one. So back to Walmart I went.
Or the time when Brooke spotted a snake in our little bathroom, curled up between the tub and the toilet.
Being the man of the house that I was, I grabbed kitchen tongs and an oven mitt to tame the beast.
Brooke then picked up the garter snake with her hand.
Manly move by me.
As bedrooms were added to our homes and children were added to fill those rooms over the years, I wish I could say the temper died down, the fights went away, and the snakes in the basement were extinct.
Unfortunately, all those would be lies.
Two Octobers ago, I was hiking and journaling one day in Weston. Solo.
It was a sad day, one where I was working and wrestling through a lot.
I remember exactly where I was sitting, on a little bench writing, when Brooke called me. Freaked out.
She called to tell me about a giant, non-garter, snake in our basement.
Not our tiny, crappy apartment. But our supposedly safe, big house in the burbs.
Thankfully, we have neighbors who bailed me out in my absence and came to the snake fight with more than an oven mitt and kitchen tongs.
It was a fitting story actually.
This big, nasty dangerous snake slithering around trying to cause harm. Behind closed doors, where he didn’t think he’d get found out.
The garter snake in my own life that I didn’t deal with, stayed with me and grew bigger and ever more dangerous as the years went by.
Maybe we all have snakes in our proverbial basements. In fact, I know we do.
I think the question is do we want to acknowledge them or keep stuffing them in places where we don’t think they’ll hurt us?
It feels safer to keep them tucked in between the furnace and the hot water heater, but eventually they’re going to get found out.
I’m glad mine did, even though it was a terrifying discovery.
And like all snakes, aren’t they better and less scary when they’re set free?
The freedom we were all intended for in the beginning, not the trappings and confines of our manmade fears.