I’ve been looking at houses online. It feels transgressive, a betrayal of my solid and unexciting little house. We’ve been together for so many years, you see, and it really was a perfect match all those years ago, but now I look at other houses and think about what might have been. Or could be.
There is one house for sale I keep looking
up. The house itself is nothing special, aside from its spectacular 1960’s
ranch house mojo. If we bought it I would spend months ripping out dirty carpet
and pink toilets. But it backs up to the Patuxent river, with a half acre of
land running down into the parkland at the river’s edge. I can imagine a garden
tumbling down that hill, meeting the forest in a shrubby verge, and continuing
along a mysterious path through the woods to the river at the bottom of the
valley. I imagine Noah spending afternoons playing by the creek with his dogs,
rather than playing Minecraft on the iPad.
But I keep circling around the
idea that this little house of ours, with all its flaws, is somehow alive. I feel
tender toward it, sorry for its hurts and insults, and I would grieve to leave
it alone in the neighborhood without us. All of this is ridiculous. And yet I
can’t help but feel that the lives lived in a house are connected to that
house, that severing the link to a place severs the link to those lives. Maybe
I feel this more keenly as someone with a terrible memory. I need the place to
trigger the memory of things that happened there. I don’t want to lose the
wedding rehearsal dinner in the backyard, the Thanksgivings with now-gone family, the
sound of rain on the tree by our bedroom window, the feel of Noah’s skin as I rubbed
his back at bedtime. I want to keep the lives I have lived in this house close
to me, safe from time.
That nothing is safe from time,
especially not a house or a memory, should be clear to me by now. And yet I am
reluctant to willfully leave my past selves alone in a discarded house. I hope
that when the time comes to go, as it inevitably will someday in the next fifty
years, those past selves hold on tight and come along for the ride.
Monday, June 1, 2015
Some things only come with time. A pergola hung with roses in June is one of them. And under this pergola with its softly falling rose petals we will celebrate Mom and Dad's fiftieth wedding anniversary this weekend. For just a few weeks this shabby little house looks like a fairy tale cottage, snug and embowered with blooms. No marriage is a fairy tale, but getting to celebrate fifty years of love and life surely is a story worth telling. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad.