Archive for the ‘immeasurable’ Category

a house

A house is more alive than I ever could have imagined. The past recorded in demolished walls, gouged kitchen floors and scuffed paint. The present simmering on the stovetop, wind rustling through the long strands of an unmowed yard. The future in the number of bedrooms, the rewired basement, the stalled projects strewn about an untended garage. And the names on the deed a flat replication of the living that goes on between walls, the ecology of flower beds, the hopes & fears & promises of the days and weeks and months and years ahead.

A person can be a place where you try to build your home, and you can try to be another person’s home. Their base. Their mirror. Which, I am telling you from experience, does not work. For anyone. I always thought that there was a certain quality of home in my marriage. With walls soft from use, threadbare in places and with ink stains like a blanket held since childhood. A touch that memorized my form and could hold me again and again. Safe. Loved. Hard at times but never losing faith in the you-me-us.

When I was moving from our house, I found this essay written for a class project in 2003 called The Literary Home, while then-just-the-boyfriend was out of town.

… In thinking of home my thoughts first turn to him. After all, it is the relations and feel that make a space home.  It was this time of year when [we first met]. Late weeknight arrivals, out early for school and work. On Saturdays I would wake up alone in his cluttered but clean room, in his small bed with a spring breaking through the middle of the mattress, the sun glaring through the window. I was so taken with the warmth in the air….  Today, I remembered how much I love walking under the sun – squinting my eyes. I feel a stillness inside as I walk past his parked car, when I unlock the door at a time when he is normally home.

… I am slowly learning now, in this environment where I welcome familiartity, to love the constant motion of furniture and things…. For a long time home was a place I sought to escape.  I wanted to remove myself, to shed my herstory like an outgrown skin…. I wanted to build my own home… a place where I could stand still, where the ending was mine to make. One day I woke up and suddenly felt like I was home.

A house, in essence, is a character…. A location, a feeling, a reminder, an expression of the present and future…. Its meaning is in constant motion, its history constantly discarded, recovered and rewritten.

All good information, I imagine my therapist would say if she were here.

In the house I just left, there is the sense of the immeasurable. 2nd owners since 1942. The salt of tears when my grandmother passed. The hole dug by the garage with the lace leaf hydrangea where Hopper sleeps in decay with a toy mouse and a piece of green blanket. Drawing maps and plans of the wedding hall, the white butcher paper strewn across the basement coffee table. The yard of countless barbeques, streams of friends, cigarette smoke, soccer, cloud watching & star gazing. Wiping away at tears on his birthday. The streets blanketed in snow, covering our car, as we walked just to make footprints, wearing my special white winter hat. A wren nestled in the roll of the sunshade for the cold winter. The bedroom, the walls the color of a warm sea, where my son said his first word. The apple tree for housewarming, the lilac for my grandmother’s illness, the maple & the dogwood (planted in the snow!) and lavender and roses for the marriage. Endless glitter on the garage floor.

And today, exactly 21 days before the bank forecloses the property, the potential buyers walked away.


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