Once Brian had convinced Meadow they should go house-hunting, she couldn’t keep from thinking about it and—if they had to move--what kind of house she wanted. The next morning as she dressed Heath and fed him; as she cleaned the house and exercised, she tried to decide what kind of place would be the best for the family. She and Brian soon began their search.
After seeing a few different places that were all unsuitable for various reasons they were a little let down, though. They stopped looking for a while.
Meanwhile, Heath was a cheerful, well-adjusted toddler, playful with his parents and his extended family of Grandma and Grandpa Ottomas, Brian’s brothers Damon and Dylan and Dylan’s wife, Elaine, but most of all with his daddy. Meadow joked that when she was alone with Heath—while Brian worked or shopped or gardened, Heath thought she was the best thing since banana pudding. But once Brian came in the house she was chopped liver.
As the weeks became months, Meadow began to worry she would not be able to have another child. She’d become pregnant quite quickly with Heath, so why was it taking so long? Finally, she started having morning sickness (and afternoon sickness, and evening sickness) and the pregnancy test showed positive. She was with child. Now that it was a fact, Brian was very excited.
Brian and Meadow discussed the housing situation again. Should they keep looking or gut the third floor and make it over? It was a dilemma. They could not come to a decision.
Brian still did took care of the greenhouse and fruit trees. He’d begun doing it for Meadow when she was pregnant with Heath and just kept it as his responsibility after he was born. He’d always liked gardening but was not as practiced at it as Meadow was. However; he was quite accomplished now and Meadow seemed content for him to keep doing it.
The weeks wore on and Meadow dreamed of what her new little baby would be like. As for Brian, as he had to repair or replace more and more things around the house he kept hoping whatever house they finally found, it would be newly constructed with all new appliances.
One day it suddenly became evident that Meadow was going to have a baby—her stomach had pooched out--so she excitedly put on her maternity clothes. Brian was downstairs in the living room reading a novel, while Heath was playing on the floor next to him. Meadow called to him to please put the book down she had something she wanted to talk to him about. When she came down the steps and Brian saw how she was dressed and her little round tummy, he smiled and said,
“Tell me, how can a pregnant woman look so sexy?”
Meadow laughed and Brian came over to talk baby-talk to her tummy which had always made her laugh when he used to do it with Heath. Hearing his father talk this way, Heath assumed Brian was speaking to him and went over to him to grab his legs.
“Hey, son,” Brian picked him up and put his pudgy little hand on Meadow’s stomach, “Your new brother or sister is right here!”
Heath, of course, did not know what Brian could be talking about, but he laughed in delight anyway. Brian put him back down to return to his play-station then he took Meadow by the hand and led her to the love seat. They had put the big sofa in storage when Heath began to walk to give him plenty of room to play. He had toys in his nursery, of course, and he played with those when they were on the second floor at their desks or reading on the bed, but they preferred he play in the living room when they were downstairs.
“Come here, Mrs. Ottomas,” Brian drew her onto his lap. They talked quietly of their plans and hopes for the future and just enjoyed holding each other with their son nearby. Brian had come through a lot in his life to get to this moment of happiness. It had been a rough road during most of which he thought he was not destined to get the kind of life he had aspired to, both personally and professionally. At one time he even considered ending his life. Long ago, when his college sweetheart Corrinne died, he had quit dreaming of any future at all. After a long time he went back into music and when he did he had accepted the fact that he would never be a famous rock star and found that as long as he could play with a small band, making music, he was content. Finding someone like Corinne, though, had been something he'd almost given up on, still a little germ of hope had remained in his heart for it was too hard to let it go completely. Now he realized he loved Meadow far beyond what he had felt for the lovely Corinne. His maturity and all that he’d been through enabled him to care and feel responsible for someone much more deeply than he had been able to as a carefree boy of nineteen.
“How did I get so lucky as for you to fall in love with me?” he asked Meadow.
“It wasn’t luck, my love. You were kind enough to go out of your way to help a friend and when you did, we got to know each other as never before and that’s how we fell in love. We not only love each other; we really like each other. Not all couples have such a thing, that I know. You are my husband and you are still my very best friend.”
Brian was working in the yard one afternoon, trimming the bushes. Nearby Meadow sat in a lawn chair while Heath played in his tiny plastic sandbox. They had hired a gardener who was supposed to come three times a week, but she really only came twice a week and always cut through their house as she worked, back and forth between the front yard and backyard, tracking in dirt, grass and debris on the carpet. So they let her go, and now Brian did all the yard work. It was one way to save some money now that they wanted to move.
Meadow found she really enjoyed watching her husband doing physical labor, she couldn’t help it. In warm weather he often took his shirt off at some point and as he worked up a sweat it emphasized his muscles as they flexed and rippled. Sometimes he was wearing just a swimsuit. Even better. It was like he was on display just for her. Before they were married she began to peek out the curtains at him when he was unaware as he worked in the yard or cleaned the pool. She’d thought it was just a part of her growing attraction to him at that time. She would marvel that she had never noticed his body when they were platonic friends; never even thought about it. She told Brian how she felt but it was hard to put it into words. He just seemed even more masculine when he was doing chores that required a bit of brawn. Brian said it was just that she wanted to work him to death for the insurance money.
Meadow tore her eyes away from him and looked down at Heath who had managed to actually get some sand on his shovel and was peering at it closely. Then he stuck his tongue out experimentally and sampled it.
“Oops,” Meadow said but before she could do anything he happily swallowed it. Then he stuck his tongue out again and made a face. There was grit on his tongue and Meadow took him inside to wipe it off and give him a drink to wash the last of the sand down and out of his throat. He didn’t liked that much. He bucked and twisted in her arms, screeching loudly to go back outside. When she brought him back out Brian said,
“I think he hit high C on that one.”
Meadow set Heath down on the grass this time where he would probably consume a bug rather than sand. Just for a change of pace.
“Brian, what would you think about me cutting my hair?”
He stopped what he was doing and looked over at her. After a second he asked,
“How much are we talking about?”
“Well, I wish I had the nerve to cut it really short and choppy like I’ve seen in the magazines, but I know I won’t. So I’m not sure what to do. It’s a lot of work to shampoo and condition it when it’s this long. With having the baby and caring for two kids soon I just think it would be easier to have it shorter. Anyway, I’m tired of having it the same way. But, I’ve been growing it for a long time with only twice a year trims. Since high school, actually.
“Maybe instead of cutting it all off you could just have it a little shorter; like to here.” He indicated his shoulder, “I remember now how it was in high. That was nice. If you still want it shorter after that then you can cut it again. I know I’ve thought of cutting my hair before, then waited and was glad I didn’t do it. Although someday…”
“Yeah, if I do it that way and it’s awful it wouldn’t take as long to grow it back out as if I cut it real short,” Meadow agreed, “But what do YOU really think—what would YOU like me to do?”
“I think that’s your decision. I know I wouldn’t like anyone to tell me what to do with my hair or beard or clothes—and various people have tried.”
“Brian! I just want your feelings on it; doesn’t mean I’ll do whatever you say.”
“Okay, here goes then. Personally, I really love your hair the way it is now. If you cut it I hope you will leave it at least to your shoulders. If you decide to cut it short, though, I will adjust and maybe like it better—who knows?”
Meadow decided, “Then I guess I’ll call Rhonda and make an appointment; as soon as possible before I lose my nerve.”
Brian nodded and went back to weeding. Heath had climbed back in the sandbox and was pouring sand on himself from the bucket. Meadow stood him up, dusted him off and then carried him inside saying,
“Bath time will be early, young man.”
And so Meadow had her hair cut and styled a few days later; only to her shoulders. Brian was pleased to discover that he liked it very much. It was a good thing she did it then because her stomach seemed to grow a lot bigger overnight and she had a little less energy. Now she could blow dry and style her hair at the same time and it was so much faster. (But it was true she had cried a little when Rhonda cut the first piece off). The house search was on again and some times they had to go see a house when it was available and Brian was off work. Fortunately, Brian’s parents were happy to come over even on short notice to watch Heath.
They continued to work with their same real estate agent, Bill Myers, but they hesitated to put their home on the market until they were sure they would not need to keep living in it. They had told Bill their must-haves were three bedrooms all on the same floor, two bathrooms, enough counter space in the kitchen (at least as much as they had now) and a backyard to accommodate two children. Other things that would be a plus were an extra room or two to make into two small studios, plenty of storage and maybe even a pool.
The first house they saw had three bedrooms and three bathrooms, but the bedrooms were not all on the same floor, two were on the second floor and one was tucked into a corner of the third floor, far from the master bedroom. The kitchen was nice and they liked the exterior quite a lot. There was a nice pool, and a gazebo. However; Meadow would rather have taken the gazebo down to provide more lawn for Heath and little whooz-it. They would keep it in mind though. It was about midway in their price range.
A few days later their agent had a second house he for Brian and Meadow to view. It was larger than they really needed with six bedrooms and five bathrooms. With multi-shaded gray slate and grayish blue wood siding. It had a very large floor plan and was the only house they’d seen with three bedrooms on one floor, although one was small. There was a big pool in the back that took up most of the yard, a small deck, and a pond in front. The first floor had the three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a strange shaped living room/dining room that would need creative decorating. The kitchen was large, and there was a “bonus room”, long and fairly narrow, that could be divided into two small studios as they wanted, or, as Brian told Meadow, they could even use part of it to make the small bedroom larger. But that meant more time and money.
“The trouble is,” Brian pointed out, “That leaves a whole second floor we don’t need.”
It was true. There were three large bedrooms upstairs, a large L-shaped room that could be a den or game room, and two bathrooms. Even if they could use the rooms to make larger studios, and make one into a guest room, frankly, when would they have a guest? The only out of town relatives Brian had were his sister Sharla and his brother Tommy. Sharla had moved to France several years ago and married a diplomat. She absolutely loved Paris so it was highly unlikely she would return in the immediate future. Tommy had never returned from California since he left at 18, although he always kept in touch with their parents. He beat Brian’s record at staying gone from Pleasantview but he was not wandering the US as Brian had; Tommy had a wife, three kids and a gorgeous home in San Diego. Meadow had no living relatives at all except a few distant cousins that she’d never met.
“I like the pond and the three bedrooms on one floor, but it’s quite a bit more than we planned on paying,” she said. It definitely had some pluses as well as minuses, though, so it went on their short list.
“Now, I know you said you preferred not to buy something ultra modern again, but this house has many unique features and I thought you still might want to see it,” Bill explained on their next outing, “there are four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms and a separate dining room, also lots of light and a good sized yard.”
As they pulled up to the white stucco home Meadow already didn’t much care for it. There was no pool and extremely minimal landscaping. The owners must have spent all their time indoors.
“It looks like an institutional building,” she complained.
“Yeah, it kind of reminds me of my old dorm at the University, but the yard is large,” said Brian as they walked up the concrete steps to the porch. It really was not a porch but more of a triangular concrete stoop.
Meadow wrinkled her nose as they took a look at the kitchen,
“It’s kind of small. And I hate that wallpaper. I like the counters, though.”
“It’s simple to change wallpaper,” Brian shrugged.
They checked out the living room.
“This table by the piano is horrible; it doesn’t go with the rest of the furniture either,” she said.
“We’re not buying the furniture, Sweetheart,” Brian murmured.
“Actually, the house does come furnished,” the real estate agent corrected.
“Really?” Brian was surprised, “Isn’t that unusual? This is one of the least expensive houses we’ve looked at, too.”
“Yes, it is unusual in the states; but they’re moving to Barbados and the house they’re buying there is furnished—which is common in the islands. Anyway, they don’t need it and, frankly, don’t want to have to sell it or store it.”
“Of course this would be the house that comes furnished out of all we've seen,” Meadow complained peevishly and walked ahead of them to the dining room.
“You might not believe this, but my wife is usually a very cheerful woman,” Brian remarked to the agent who nodded,
“House-hunting will do that.”
There was a huge window in the dining room that was lovely but would not be very private since it looked right into the neighbors’ yard. No drapes would cover the situation unless they were custom made.
“They spared no expense on the dining room chairs,” Meadow observed, “These look like the ones that were in the cafeteria at Pleasantview High.”
The master bedroom was quite large with another one of those huge windows plus a picture window behind the bed.
“No privacy here,” Meadow said raising one eyebrow as she looked at Brian.
There was a large master bath that lay between the small room and master bedroom with doors from each.
“Wow, they are using the little room as a nursery and this would be where we’d need our nursery, too. This room is not bad,” Meadow said and then asked in surprise, “They’re taking a baby to Barbados?”
“Actually, their baby is now six years old and sleeps upstairs, but they just left the nursery this way and used it for storage. Their agent convinced then to store the stuff elsewhere before they put the house on the market.”
“If we had the opportunity to move to Barbados, Sweetheart, believe me we’d take Heath fast enough,” Brian commented.
They moved upstairs where there were two large bedrooms and a bath in between; and that was all. Meadow had no quarrel with those rooms; it was just that there was really not as much footage in the second floor in total ; certainly not as much as downstairs. And she’d want to redecorate them eventually.
“We could extend this floor out that way,” Brian said to Meadow, looking at the outside wall of the bedroom.
“Then from outside it would look like a box for sure,” she fretted.
“Meadow, OUR house is a box. It’s never bothered you before.”
Outside the bedrooms, she scrutinized one end of the open hall near two big windows.
“I could set up my easel here,” she said to Brian. The spot was right next to the banister from which there was an eight foot drop.
“Kind of narrow,” Brian was dubious.
Meadow looked over the banister where the hall looked directly into a room downstairs,
“What room is below here?”
“That’s the master bedroom,” the agent supplied.
“The master bedroom?” Meadow turned to Bill who smiled weakly, “I’m looking right down into the master bedroom? So, theoretically my children could stand here and listen to every word my husband and I might say and everything we might do.”
The agent shrugged helplessly.
“I’ve seen enough,” she announced flatly, “Brian, help me down these stairs.”
“Thanks, Bill, we’ll talk it over,” Brian assured the agent over his shoulder as he took Meadow’s arm. She went down the stairs carefully; she was already clumsy with pregnancy. As she progressed down to the living room she managed to get in the last word on the subject.
Next update: Brian Ottomas Ch. 3 In My Life Part 3