One sleeps with a baseball bat beside him.
The other arms himself, goes target shooting, hunts.
Both are liberal, loving, incredibly decent and tender men, their "arming" a reaction to the home-invasion robbery that occurred three years ago. My front door sports a metal panel around the dead-bolt. I pay for an alarm system.
And yet, despite this history, it's home.
Imperfect, worn, unfinished: home.
Vulnerable, drafty, creaky: home.
And I love it.
I gave up the notion of a "proper home" some time ago. Accepted that I have cats instead of a new sofa, "old-world charm" instead of doors that close properly. I've lived here long enough to add my DNA to the sheetrock, my nightmares to the attic crawlspace, my own particular gloom to the dank-aired laundry in the basement.
Here lingers the sound of a police officer's voice saying, "Your husband has been involved in an accident."
A wall once held a neighbor's suicide note.
This house has listened in on epilepsy diagnoses and taboo phone conversations. Heard slammed doors and broken dinner plates (slammed against a door). Endured a broken window and the body pushed against the window.
But in equal measures, this house has heard my son at ten learning Beethoven on his flute, Bach (badly!) on an untuned piano, and poetry spoken in a multitude of volumes. Daily it hears my son R.'s bold laughter.
And how many times has "Happy Birthday" been sung here? Nearly a hundred times, but not quite.
Its roof has been raised and its underbelly gutted-out.
It once swelled with the noisy exuberance of teenagers and then shrunk to its now nearly-empty nest.
I've learned to not just accept its many idiosyncrasies but to honor them, because this old house has lived more lifetimes than only my quarter of a century here, and so deserves praise and admiration for simply existing, for putting up with my years of complaints.
I've always believed that I would have a difficult time living in a new house, and I don't for a moment question that sliver of wisdom I can call mine.