Thursday, September 11, 2008

The House that Doesn't Complain by Patresa Hartman

There used to be a wall between the kitchen and the front room -- the piano room that housed my ReadingWritingAndThinking chair. Now there is only one space. Where I pour my cereal and where I think my thoughts are no longer compartmentalized. They are fluid and whole and share air flow.

I have great hopes for this new arrangement. Stories and words have no choice but to circulate.

We live in a one-and-a-half story built in 1950. What was once an attached one car garage was converted into a sunken living room by the previous owners. They lived here forty-two years -- raised two boys, buried one husband and father. The woman, the widow who sold it to us and moved to a retirment home, drives by frequently and comments to the neighbors about what we're doing with the flower beds and how we're keeping up with the grass and what is this business with the dark green paint in the front room. What was wrong with peach? I don't blame her; even I still think of this as her house. When so much of you seeps into the floor boards of a place, even I would have to agree it is yours.

I wonder what she thinks now with construction trucks in the drive. They have been hauling out plaster and linoleum -- her plaster and linoleum -- and I wonder if it is causing her as much angst as she felt when she watched us haul out large rolls of her carpet and her prized peach vertical blinds three years ago.

I am so grateful for this house, for her house. I am so grateful to have this space, to have the freedom to splatter myself in various gawdy hues along the walls, to knock down partitions when I feel separate and constrained. I am so grateful for the sturdy baseboards and unyielding steps, for the front flower beds that agreed to expand and host roses and hostas and lilac. I am grateful, because I know that none of it is actually mine, and even so, it opens to me. We have been here three years, and this house does not complain when we insist on filling it with our stories.


Barbara Quinn said...

Stories and words have no choice but to circulate.That's so well said and P, I'm grateful they are circulating. Glad to hear that space is being molded to comfort your lives.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Great concept of the living, breathing house "allowing" you to seep in and around and through it, as your thoughts do through it.

PS...I'm pretty sure since you've done cosmetic surgery on her and loved her well, she's yours now. ;)

Kathryn Magendie said...

You know - I've never lived for long in one place -I forget that other people do. My dad was restless and we moved a lot. Then it seems I did the same. Now, here, on the mountain, I hope I stay and stay and stay and stay. I hope I seep into the walls and floors - I love that image...thankyou.

Ami said...

The house I bought was also home to one long-time owner (40+ years) and one short-time owner (5). I've been here two years and still don't think of it as "mine" although the mortgage company is sure that it is. I'm slowly reshaping her, as you are your home, and I hope that one day another owner will look around and see remnants of me and be grateful for what I've put into her, even if they don't like the color of the walls or blinds.

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