Before the days of Pinterest and Instagram, I would scour magazines and take long drives hunting for the perfect front porch — the front porch I had been dreaming about for longer than I can remember. The fantasy started long before I met my husband and had children, and long before we bought the house that would hold the perfect platform for all things magical. I had a picture in my head, but I needed a visual. I needed to see it for real. After years of searching, we were visiting friends in New York and driving along a country road, and there it was: the picture I had been carrying around with me for so long.
The materials were delivered on a late September afternoon a few months later. My three kids stood by my side, clutching my legs. They were 2, 3, and 4, and the big truck that was in their view was all-encompassing. The flatbed was long, and the forklift was strong and loud as it placed the pieces of our front porch on the lawn.
My kids were intently watching; they were mesmerized. It was all they could see. They were living in the moment as kids do, but I was not. I was looking far ahead and the pictures I was painting, the ones I had envisioned since I was in my early 20s, were swirling around my head. I was dizzy with happiness.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the pillars that I carefully picked out. They were not too chunky, as to not cut off our view, but sturdy enough to lean on.
It was finally going to happen; the front porch I had long anticipated was going to be here in a matter of weeks.
It wasn’t just to complete the face of our colonial style home. It would be so much more than just an aesthetic detail. There would be years of memories made on that porch. Those floors would hold the weight of my family. I had longed for evenings out there watching fireflies. I had visions of Matchbox car races, sipping lemonade, and bandaging scraped knees and elbows. It would be the best spot to host birthday parties, and a place where rocking with the dogs at our feet would become a ritual. Long conversations would happen on this porch, sad goodbyes, awkward teenagers, and the perfect stage for prom pictures.
I saw glimpses of our future that early autumn day. I saw flashes of our life that would turn into those moments you couldn’t forget. I saw twirling hula hoops. I felt summer breezes. I could hear the sound of little feet. I saw boots lined up by the door. I could smell the hydrangeas I would plant. I could taste the apple cider and Saturday night pizza we would have out there.
We would enjoy wine late in the evening, and coffee early in the morning. I would watch bike races, fix Halloween costumes, and try to get family pictures. This would be a place to daydream, to read, to catch raindrops. We would wait for our company out here, visit, and shake hands.
I saw myself standing and waving as my kids left the driveway, first on their feet and later in their cars. I thought about nervous teenage boys ringing our doorbell, first kisses, holding hands, and straightening my daughter’s veil.
This is where I would be when I got news of my first grandchild and this is where I would rock them.
I saw mums planted in planters in the fall, and a Christmas tree would stand on the right-hand side every December that we would decorate together. I would plant pansies in cast-iron urns, and we would devour ice cream cones on hot summer days.
Maybe I didn’t see the times I would have to step out on that front porch with clenched fists trying to hold it together that perfect fall evening. And the huge fight I had with my husband about getting the lights on that very special Christmas tree “just so” was not in the plans, either.
I certainly didn’t envision the tears that have spilled out onto that floor. I didn’t think about times I would storm inside because my kids wouldn’t stop fighting over who got the last blue popsicle and I just couldn’t take one more moment of it. I didn’t know how much my husband and I would work on our marriage on that front porch.
Many of the things I had imagined for so long have happened there, although some were not as sweet as I had thought. It is easy to see things through rose-colored glasses, to anticipate them in a way that makes the real thing impossible to live up to our expectations.
But some have also been better, simply because you don’t always know how much a small gesture will move you.
And maybe our front porch has not made our life any better. We would have done all of these things without it. We would still have those tiny moments that turn into big memories that tell our story. It doesn’t matter where they happen, but right now as I sit and write this, I am watching my kids play basketball next to my sleeping dogs, and I wish I could stay in this moment for the rest of my life.