Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hello, House

Two sons:

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.  


  1. What you've described is a HOME. Perfect.

  2. That is a home full of the teeth and the courage it takes to embrace this life. It is a house worthy of you.

    (I admit I winced at the phrase "the noisy exuberance of teenagers" as I am newly missing it.)

  3. Who could live in a pristine environment? afraid to put down a cup or spill some crumbs? life is untidy and messy and we need to be comfortable during it.

  4. My small township has no new homes, and some date to the time our roads had first names. Near by, in the encroaching city, a new housing development. I couldn't go back.

  5. What a beautiful essay on home -- it just resounds in a quiet, powerful way --

  6. I'm with you on this, T. Home is where the heart is, where life and death is, our memories. The familiar views out the window and the back porch, the rose bushes that have been growing for forever. This is a lovely piece. I remember your house well, that one time I was visiting with my daughter and she-who-will-not-be-named. I loved it then, the comfortable and relaxing vibe of HOME.

  7. Everywhere I read this morning, echoes of distinctly other times, thoughts of castle and defense of the realm, lives measured in generations and not brief years. You've stirred my affection for your home and a clearer knowing of what your path has been. xo