This Friday’s contribution to If Walls Could Talk is –
Home Sweet Home
A roof and floors don’t make a home.
It takes people, it takes time and you have to really understand what home is.
There is no way a new house, slammed together, then sold to the next unworthy family can know.
One family didn’t make me a home, they were using me as a waiting place, I am not sure they owned me. That was a long time ago.
This family, if you want to call it that, didn’t fit at all. First off, there were too many of them. I mean there were not enough of them. Just two, one of each. They were pretty much just getting started, poor girl, didn’t know how to work a house to her own advantage.
You don’t just move in and call it home. You have to touch a place. Leave your mark. Leave your mark with love and satisfaction. She could barely run the broom. I don’t know where she was living before or who should have been bringing her along.
The man who came with her, well, if you ask me, he was no good for her. He sent her off on a train to see her sister, I think it was. The girl was having a baby or something, not yet, months away. But the fellow, he couldn’t wait to get her out of there.
As soon as the dumb girl was out of the house, there he went. He came back with a mop, some cleaning stuff and went to town. Got me to shining. He even got the drain cover things in the sinks all cleaned up.
Then the man took to hanging new curtains.
I didn’t know what to think. Unless the fellow took to talking out loud to himself about what he was doing, I could only watch.
But, it was appearing rather home like. Comfy. Warm. Cozy.
I was okay with it. After all, don’t all houses want to become a home? More that the sum of its plumbing and wires?
The man left one afternoon, I was sure he was off to the trrain station to get his woman.
I waited expectantly to see her. I wanted to hear how nice I had turned out. I wanted to hear the man boast about me. I wanted them to do a grand sweep through all of my rooms, I wanted the man to open and present my closets, my nooks to the woman who would coo and make over my homelyness.
The man was gone a long time. Dust gathered. My shine was becomeing drab. Well kept, no one was there to leave a mess or clutter or dishes in the sink.
I had a lonesome look, it had been an expectant look but now it had faded like curtains left too long on the south facing windows.
When the leaves began to drop outside and the windows cooled, he came back.
The man was sad and aged. He walked from room to room. He went through the motions of living as much as he could. Dishes sat. The stove went un wiped.
One day, just as the last leaves fell off the scrub mayple tree, he packed up his clothes and bathroom things.
The man took one more long slow walk through my rooms and let himself out through the back door off the kitchen.
I must have wintered. I don’t know how much time passed. I went inside myself, as houses in neglect and abandonment are known to do. It isn’t sad, this going in, it is timeless. Resting. No resentments, no sores to heal, we simply go inside ourselves. And wait.
It isn’t the concious wait like I did when the man went off to get his woman. This is a deep deep place of contentment. Almost a non being. Time doesn’t pass for us when we go inside. It simply is.
I know it was spring time when I began to come out again. I could tell by the feel, the slant of the sun and the smells in the air. I could not have picked a better time to begin to awaken than springtime. I noticed first off when some of my windows flew open. A fire was lit in the fireplace downstairs.
I was groggy if you can call it that so I did not become expectant or jubilent or even curious at first. I took my time coming around.
I had after all been right on the edge of becoming a home when something happened, out there. I was reluctant to look forward to or form any imagining for my future.
The curtains left I don’t know how long ago were taken down by a busy woman. She was young. She was smart. She was very business like. She took down curtains, cleaned my window sills, mopped and swept and had me cleaned up in no time at all.
There wasn’t any grime, the fellow before her had done a good job. She left for a day or two but I did not consider going back inside myself, the warm springtime sun felt good coming through unshaded windows, slanting sunshine on my floors.
In a few more days, the woman was back, with a man and children.
The children flew through wildly as if they had been caged for too long. They ran and explored every closet and cabinet. They played hide and seek. They were happy and distractable. One of them found a tiny crawlspace under the outside of me, I don’t have a basement. He played down there for whole afternoons.
The woman started my stove and stored food. She spent hours in the kitchen cooking things and had the man carve out a garden.
It didn’t take long for them to settle in.
They were a predictable family, sleeping and rising and playing and cooking.
I don’t know where the man worked but he cleaned up and dressed nice every workday and came home every evening.
It was a busy time. Some of my rooms went unused. The first couple didn’t use but one room upstairs. I had five up there. Now, they used two rooms.
The boys slept in the same room. The man or woman would read to them each night untill they fell asleep.
One winter, I think it was still the first winter, I have never been too good at time, houses aren’t all that interested in what year it is. It isn’t our business to worry.
The woman rounded out. The man was especially kind to her. He insisted she rest, put her feet up. He treated her like a queen from one of the stories they had read to the boys.
She stayed down for a while but soon was up and cooking, cleaning and she opened up the room next to hers and the mans upstairs.
One day she hung the sweetest curtains and the man brought a crib up there.
One night the woman cried out. A woman from town came and the energy was like no other. Awareness was sharp and tension in the house rang like a bell throughout. The boys came in and visisted the woman then left to their own room.
The woman from town sent the man off to read to the boys.
After a while of roaming the hallway, pacing like a only a man can pace, he was ushered back into the room where the woman appeared very distressed in a bed now padded with towels.
The woman rose up on her knees in the soft springy bed and seemed to be concentrating very hard. Soon she was looking like she might be about to kneed some bread, right there on the bed.
Next thing I know, there is a joyful sound and a tiny mewling squeaking.
The boys slept on. The woman from town set off with a bundle down the steps to the kitchen. This was my first baby, I didn’t know what the woman was doing in the kitchen, I feared the worst.
Upstairs the man was so happy and when the woman had rested a bit she asked him what they had.
The joy was enough to fuel me for the next two changes of season. If houses slept, I would have felt deprived. It was noisey at all hours.
The boys adoreed the baby girl. They dropped in just to watch her sleep.
The woman didn’t take long to get back full on with cleaning and cooking a cooing over the new baby. She’d keep the infant in a laundry basket on the kitchen table as she worked.
The man and woman read to the boys every night.
The man went to work, still clean, still happy.
The garden grew the next year and the man turned more soil and planted more.
The baby girl was walking when once more the man tried to get the woman to take things slower and easier.
The last time he did this, a child followed.
I let myself become expectant with him.
This was a happy family. Sometimes the boys would fight and sometimes the woman raised her voice.
One day she grabbed up a broom and began chasing the boys around the house. They shreaked with laughter. She chased them some more then stopped an rubbed her belly.
She sent the tallest boy out on an errand and the smaller boy helped with the little girl.
By the time the man came home from work, the woman from town was already there and the woman was working hard.
And so the family grew. Another girl. The boys came in and visited the baby and the woman. Then the man scooted them off and and read a story.
For a while, both girls used the room next to the man and womans room. Then they opened up the fourth of the five rooms upstairs.
The woman was quite busy with the toddling girl and the infant. The toddler was too big to keep in a basket but the new one did just fine.
By this time I began to take my cozyness to heart. I was becoming. I no longer worried about the time I might go inside myself. I was comfortable, busy, humming.
I was a home. I know it because a house always knows when they become a home.
– Home Sweet Home
Next Week The Gingerbread House has a story to tell..