The house was supposed to give them space to breathe, room to expand into the family they had talked about becoming. It was supposed to be proof that they were adults, growing into the world they had resisted through their twenties, establish them as responsible and full willing participants in society now.
The house was a small Queen Anne on a quiet street. The front door opened into a hall, the spine off which sat a parlor to the left and a dining room to the right. The hall ran straight to the kitchen, which was large enough for both a table and beyond which was a solarium where they would put small sofa, so that they could do all their living in the back of the house.
Two bedrooms were upstairs. They chose the one in the back, the one with the bathroom in it, the deck, and the view. Guests would use the small room and the bathroom that had been a closet. Until the babies came. Then guests would sleep downstairs, I. the parlor, and they would have to come upstairs to bathe.
Their friends loved the house. From the start they felt ownership too, they sized up the house, looked around and thought about what they would do with the dining room (make it a guest room or office or home gym) and how they would arrange their furniture, if this we were their house. "Will you do curtains or blinds?" they asked, and nodded in agreement with he reply or tipped their heads to the side, trying to understand choices they would never have made if this really were their house. One marveled at the decor and another secretly fumed how the couple was ruining the opportunities for expression presented by this house.
Many dinners we were had at the house. The invitations we were always the same: "Come over to the house!" It took people a while to learn to bring just flowers or chocolate or a nice bottle of wine or olive oil, rather than a significant contribution to the meal. They learned to sit nicely, not stir the pot. They learned to be served, to be guests in the house. They watched the pair become man of the manor and lady of the house; some resented the new roles and others aspired to step into them, in their own house.
The children came in unexpected ways: as nieces and nephews who painstakingly crayoned the wainscoting while in the solarium the wine flowed and loosened the stories, which gave way to tears over someone who was not spending so much time anymore in the house and how could she get pregnant if she was always working--if that's what she was doing after all he had done to get her this house.
They went on that way for a while, chasing each other around and about the house, which is still small, on that quiet street, still holding everything they ever put inside.