House and Home

Miranda Fisher (born Miranda Diaz) came from money. Her family hadn't been rich by any means, but they certainly didn't want for much. They lived in Spain until she turned fifteen, moving to America soon after her birthday.

She took English lessons every day after school let out, but learned most of the language simply by listening to her classmates speak to one another. She had always been a quick learner, and never before had that been more apparent than those few months after she and her family had moved.

Miranda was nothing if not a high achiever, excelling in nearly everything she tried. (With the exception of differential calculus, which took her longer to grasp than she ever cared to admit.) She graduated high school with honors, proud of being able to put the fact that she was bilingual on her transcript.

Her first three years of college passed without incident, leaving her to focus solely on her major, which was, ironically, American literature. She had always loved the writings of American authors, even before she could actually read the words they wrote. She could still remember the first novel she had read while in college: William Hill Brown's The Power of Sympathy. Considering the subject matter of the novel, the report that came later was somewhat awkward to write, but worth it, since it gained her the first A-grade of not only the semester, but also the year.

Miranda met Victor (Vic, to his friends) halfway through her fourth year at school. She was going out to grab some lunch a couple hours before her next class began, and Victor was outside, leaning lazily against an oak tree, pretending to peruse a thick text book on mathematics when, in reality, he was watching the young woman who had just walked out of the building several feet to his left.

He found her to be beautiful from the moment he saw her. Skin the color of coffee and milk that had been blended together, hair long and light brown, falling to her shoulders and curling just slightly at the ends. The brown strapless dress she wore fluttered just above her knees, flipping outwards with every step she took as she moved with a kind of natural grace that was breathtaking and suggested that she hadn't the slightest idea of just how gorgeous she really was.

Without thinking, Vic dropped his book to the ground and pushed himself away from the tree by steadying his hands against the thick trunk, calling "excuse me" into the open air, hoping the woman would stop and turn around towards him. She kept walking, and for a single, heart-stopping moment, Vic feared she would flat-out ignore him, but when he called after her again, she stopped and moved to face him.

Miranda's immediate thought after seeing Victor for the first time was simply, "Good Lord, he's handsome."

And he was. His smooth skin suggested that it was usually sugar-white, but the time he spent studying outdoors had given him an even tan. His hair was black and shaggy, speaking of the fact that he hadn't had a proper haircut in recent months.

Despite the heat of the day, he was wearing a sweater with the name of the college on it, and baggy black jeans. He wasn't wearing shoes, which Miranda found a bit strange, but she ignored it.

After taking several minutes for introductions, Vic wasted no time in asking Miranda out for the next Friday night. She agreed without hesitation, and the couple soon found themselves dating regularly (and exclusively).

Two years after finishing college, they were engaged, and a year after that, they were married, living in a tiny shack of an apartment, eating mostly boxed macaroni and cheese and bread that they got cheap, at day-old price reductions.

There were holes in the screening of the apartment's windows, letting in water during the rainy months and snow during the colder months, and the shower would run hot and cold randomly and without prompting, but they loved the place, anyhow, enjoying that it was something they had earned - and worked to keep - together.

Miranda did part-time secretary work at a local elementary school, and Vic fixed air conditioning systems. The work was steady in the summer, but obviously died out during winter, so he spent a couple Saturdays every month taking classes on fixing cars - a skill that he picked up rapidly, mostly because he had no other option - and spent the colder months doing work on cars as a way to earn some semblance of a regular paycheck.

The first real house they found themselves in was small, but homey. The living room doubled as a kitchen, the bathroom was hardly big enough for one person at a time, let alone two, but "just fine for now", as Miranda said, and there were two bedrooms. (A requirement, since Miranda was expecting by that time.)

The house seemed empty when it was just the two of them, but the situation was quickly remedied with the birth of Jaime, their first son. They were still short of money, (especially since Miranda had to stop her work at the elementary school several weeks before Jaime was born), but they always tried to remind themselves that it was worth it.

When Jaime was three, the couple became pregnant with their second child, Jordan. This was when they moved into their second house, and the only real home they had ever lived in together.

The house, like their first place, was small, but the close quarters just made them like it even more. Jaime had his own room, and once Jordan was born, he spent his first full year of life sleeping in a crib in his parents' bedroom, but once he turned two, he was given his own room, as well.

The backyard seemed to be the favored spot in the house. It was a little worse for wear at first, but Vic spent his free time fixing it up - planting lemon trees that would fully grow and blossom within a few years, building a deck with an awning over it for warm days, even wrapping white-bulbed twinkle lights around the poles that kept the deck upright, making the area look as though it were filled with fireflies on dark nights.

When Jaime was sixteen, he went to a pawn shop and bought an old hammock to put up in the backyard. That hammock became a central point of the area, and it seemed no one could make a visit to the backyard without at least lying in it for a few moments. But one day, when Jordan was fourteen and was mowing the lawn in an effort to earn a little pocket change, the mowers' blades caught a frayed, low-hanging piece of fabric from the hammock, and the thing was torn to shreds before Jordan could even gain the presence of mind to try and save it.

The boys both took after Miranda in the appearance department, with their coffee-colored skin and long legs, (not to mention, Jaime's brown hair. Jordan's, however, was black.), but the little things that made up their personalities were almost exclusively a product of their father.

Victor instilled in his sons a love of music, and there wasn't a Friday night that went by that wasn't filled with the sounds of Bob Marley or Blue Oyster Cult or Led Zeppelin playing on the radio. He taught Jordan to play guitar (both acoustic and electric) and paid for Jaime to take lessons in drumming after his oldest son fell deeply in love with the instrument.

The day it was revealed that Jordan could sing, it was as though a door had swung open wide. He and Jaime spent hours upon hours of time together, perfecting the sounds of their various instruments, the melodic tone of Jordan's voice providing a soundtrack to the moments in their lives' that simple words couldn't capture.

In an effort to gain some sense of companionship with her boys, Miranda taught Jordan how to play the piano, (a skill that she had acquired during her childhood in Spain, taught to her by her grandmother), and gave lessons in the speaking of the Spanish language to both her sons, which they picked up on quickly and with almost remarkable ease. Jordan took this knowledge and used it in his music, his singing not just in English now, but in Spanish, as well.

Miranda taught them of their Spanish heritage and shared her religious beliefs with them, often having the entire family go to church on Sundays and say a blessing before every meal. Even after Jordan finally admitted to his family that he was gay, nothing changed, which he found comfort in. They still went to worship services, still spoke the blessings, and Miranda even got a job at the church, teaching Sunday school classes to young children. Victor and Miranda didn't feel as though their son were condemned in the eyes of the Lord for his sexual preference, and they did their best to make sure Jordan never felt that way, either.

Vic still had relatively steady work as a repairman, figuring there wasn't much point in stopping something he was so good at, as long as it was paying. He picked up a job on the weekends, painting houses within a several-block radius of his own home, sometimes taking his sons along to help with the work. It was easy to tell when Victor's sons were with him, as opposed to his doing the work alone - you could hear Jordan singing if you took even one step out of your house, towards the street. His voice rang out, clear as a bell. Both Victor and Jaime would join in if they knew the lyrics to whatever song Jordan happened to be singing, but neither of their voices could hold a candle to Jordan's, and they knew it.

After the Pastor at the church heard Jordan singing hymns one Sunday morning during worship, he invited the young man to join the choir, which he agreed to immediately. He didn't sing with them every Sunday, seeing as his life was already plenty busy, but he enjoyed the times he did spend with the choir, making memories that would stay with him throughout his whole life.

Victor and Miranda stood as constant witnesses to everything that happened to their boys and in their family - from Jaime's first steps, to Jordan's first tooth. From the time Jaime broke his arm trying to climb a tree to knock down a wasps' nest that appeared to be abandoned, to Jordan cracking his skull on the concrete as he skateboarded up and down the driveway and caught one of his wheels in a crack he hadn't noticed before.

Over the years, they came to learn that it wasn't so much a feeling of "hominess" that made up the place where they took residence and built a family. It wasn't the lack of water dripping through the roof during a rainstorm, or the ability to turn on the hot water in the shower and know that it would remain that way for the duration. It was their love for each other, and their love for their sons.

It was Vic waking up early in the morning for work, to find that Miranda had gotten up even earlier to make him breakfast.

It was Miranda coming home after a busy day at the church, and discovering a fresh gallon of milk in the fridge, even though she hadn't been able to do the shopping yet that week.

It was the thumping of a consistent, even drumbeat provided by Jaime's steady hands as Jordan plucked away at the acoustic guitar, singing meaningful words in both English and Spanish.

It was the melding of two lives' into one; a mutual respect from both parties. Sharing bits of one another and learning something new every day.

Put simply, the thing that made a house into a home - into their home - was love.