Monday, December 18, 2017

Love Letter to my House

      We are in the process of leaving behind a home we've lived in for 22 years, so far.  Only one baby was born here, but the other three barely remember our previous house.  They were something like 9, 6, 2 and not here yet when we moved to this 1898 Victorian.  It has five bedrooms, two baths, two stairways, and much more.  Most people walking through my house would probably think 'Charming but a bit lived-in perhaps?'  But I see below the surface level of newspapers and ankle boots and dog toys.  And as I look to moving from this house to something much smaller and a good 50 years newer, I want to document what I will miss about our Park Avenue house.  Leaving out the broad expanses of dog hair and dirty dishes that we all have, right?
     First, there is the address.  Wherever you go people take a second look when you say 'Park Avenue', I assume because of NYC and the songs.  Second is the boulevard down the center.  Who gets to live on a street with trees and flags down the center?  Not many!
     Then there are the friendly dog-walking neighbors at all time of day or night.  Reliably looking up at the architecture or porches of many more illustrious houses than my own. 

But my house, the things I want to document so I can look back some day, is in the details.  Details like the front door knob. 
Details like the trim around every window and doorway in this place (I think we have 25 windows).

Details like this broken finial (?) that I have refused to fix so it reminds me of my wonderful life, just like the movie. 
The fact the house had a lily carved in the newel post and we had a daughter named Lily probably has something to do with us taking this on and gutting it 20 years ago.

     Going back outside, there is the sidewalk that runs all the way around the house in a big oval that all the kids could ride their bikes or trikes or scooters around.  I didn't grow up with that, but it is a great thing for a family. Details like a porch swing and spindles and this bright red door that came to us this way.  Its always the perfect color once a year at Christmas-time.

Details like the windows, some of which I've written about before more eloquently in the past, but nothing is the same.  It is all unique.  That's how they did it in 1898. 

Some things I always wanted in a house include this pocket door that is still in great shape, never refinished, because it is usually hidden away.

My next house is so much smaller, I'm pretty sure it wont have a 'Christmas-tree room' like we have now.  Or two stairways, one with room for many more stockings than the 9 we have  hanging this year. 

Or this nook at the top of the stairs I've always been in love with because of its utter impracticality.

     love this picture because it represents our marriage so well.  Chuck built this pantry the first year we moved into the kitchen.  But one year for Christmas without me knowing it he added a light inside.  Something I'd waited a good 18 years for, lol.  The pantry was something we added, and are leaving behind for the next owners:
     Don't you look back and childhood photos of birthday cakes, and really, what is fun to see, is the counter behind everyone with the pencils and phone and the notepad to take messages on (no one ever used).  Or the crazy rec room carpet pattern on the floor.  It is the details that bring back childhood, and even though this house doesn't represent my own childhood, it represents my own children's childhood.  As my friends know, I'm not particularly sentimental.  About pets, or kids going to college, or empty nests.  But I am sentimental about leaving this house.  I feel good about it.  It is time.  But I do feel nostalgic for all the impromptu tumbling classes we had in the long front rooms, the coat closet at the back door I would literally throw my weight into to close with all those snowpants and snowboots and mittens.  Our chandelier that I once broke, using it as a life ring as I fell while cleaning it.  And paid a hefty penny to restore, or so it seemed at the time.  I've never made that mistake again (of cleaning it haha)...
     This is where Santa visited with a vengeance and backpacks were tossed and tossed, and tossed as they all arrived home from their respective schools to turn on Rugrats and drink their capri suns :)

So many moments here, and I'm just hoping I can remember as many as possible for safekeeping.  On to the next adventure (eventually).  We don't do anything quickly!
     Of all the houses we've had or will have, this is without a doubt the best one for Christmas-y feelings.  Last year for it!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Yearning for natural light

At the moment, I'm considering a job change.  One of the factors I have to make peace with is that instead of walking six blocks to work, many of the opportunities right now involve traveling.  Quite a bit of traveling over many miles in a car. 

Yesterday I had one interview and I drove about three hours through the country-side to meet with the interviewer, a midpoint between our hometowns.  I was prepared, but I accidentally left my list of questions at home.  Today I found them, along with many pieces of writing, some of which I just published.  A notebook tossed aside in my clothes-closet, until now.  And in this notebook is a very interesting piece to me, today. Transcribing here...

     She could feel it, a gentle breeze on her soul whenever she drove by a field.  A meadow.  Some trees on the edge, deep shade, a few bees, wildflowers: purple clover, yellow black-eyed susans, white (?) that spilled behind that rusty mailbox. Those soybeans are a brilliant lemon-yellow, then rusty copper, then soft brown.
     She sat in her cubicle with the stale air, no natural light, only light from artificial sources -- an overhead fluorescent bulb, under-storage bin desk light and a small lamp from home.  Endeavoring to recreate the feeling and mood of natural light.  Endeavoring to make the best of a ill-fitting, square-peg-round-hole thing.  Making the best of it is what she excels at.

OK, gets a little sarcastic from here, but interesting that my musings from maybe 18 months ago are answering a question I have today.  I don't recall writing it, but it is all about how I don't like working in a cubicle and wish I could get out in the natural light more.  Hmmm.... interesting. Universe? 

And I do love, love, love the road-side weeds.  I have often wanted to find out who is responsible for the natural plantings on the interstates in Illinois, in the gulley between the cars driving in opposite directions.  To thank them for not mowing but sowing. The natural wave of purple, and blends of gold and beige have seemed like a painting to me more than once.  I've never met another weed-lover but there must be one out there.  It actually endangers my driving abilities as I stare at the ever-changing, never the same combinations nature has planted.  Traveling might have its perks.

I wasn't brilliant enough to stop and take a picture yesterday, but this is the idea, courtesy of google images. Your weeds are my art...
Part 3 & 4 -- Completely judgment-free zones

Goodwill.  You don't have to dress up.  It is cathartic because like a garage sale you can spend very little or nothing and still feel entertained.  Unlike a garage sale, it is air-conditioned, has bathrooms and everything in one stop.

Goodwill is a good-familiar, and out of town today, guaranteed anonymous. No one knows I'm here.  No one is waiting on me in there to return a call, answer an email, or fix a problem.

I can move slowly or quickly.  I can feel my tension easing, like a good meditation.  Used books.  Forks.  Crazy outfits. Restful to me.  Today I find a book called "Seeds" by Thomas Merton.  Lots of sticky notes, tabs, highlighted passages. Someone has done all the work for me.  Inside front cover a jotted note to look at page 115.  Where I find "Our vocation....Work with God in creating our own lives, our own identity, our own destiny."  Not subtle, God.

Books. Bookstores. The beauty of.
No one tries to make eye contact in a bookstore.  People casually browse knowing the protocol.  Bookstores are not for chit chat.  Not for phone calls.  Not for laughter.  Bookstore-lovers follow these unwritten rules.  I am pleased.  I feel safe in bookstores.  No judgment. Obviously bookstores have a thousand facets to their wonderfulness, but for today, I'm just claiming the white-noise-like quality that soothes the brain.

And, they contain, b o o k s.  That is all.