I have not been shy about my disdain for home ownership on this blog.
It is weird actually, because I really love decorating our house, and I'm mostly happy with the space it gives us and the way it looks; but, it is not exactly a place where I feel calm and relaxed. In fact, I would actually say it is one of the biggest sources of stress in my life these days*.
I like things neat, and organized, and fresh, and clean. And, well, when you live in a house that is 90 years old with a long-haired dog and a toddler, those things just aren't really a reality (at least not about 98% of the time).
|Moving announcement circa May 2008|
Anyway, I reached a peak of frustration with our house a couple of weeks ago; and then, as you might remember, we had the original home owners visit on the day after Thanksgiving. I wasn't particularly looking forward to the visit - again, I was stressed about all that needed to be done before they came - BUT, it was a really great experience. And, it has changed my perspective a little bit...
George and Bob (shown above) grew up in this house. Their great-grandfather built it in 1923 and raised his family in it. The house was then passed down to their dad (who was raised there) and his new bride (probably sometime around 1950) to start their own family in. They had two boys - George and Bob - and their mother lived there until she died. (She lived in two houses her whole life - this one and her parent's house. Incredible, isn't it?)
When the family sold the house in 2000, they said goodbye to almost a century of family history and memories. The new owners made some major changes like the addition of our beloved sunroom, tearing down a wall to open the staircase, and installing central heating and air conditioning. They also made smaller changes like tearing up carpet, adding the built-in bookshelves around the fireplace, and replacing the back splash with beadboard in the kitchen. But, over all, they did a really good job of maintaining the house's original charm. The combination of the updates and the "vintage" feel is what made me fall in love with the house when we bought it from them in 2008. We are only the third family to ever own/live-in this house.
Back to George and Bob... When they showed up on Thanksgiving morning, they had a whole posse with them. :) They each brought their own families (wives and kids), and Bob's childhood best friend (who grew up just a few blocks away) and his wife also came. I admit that I was a little overwhelmed when I saw all ten people unloading in the front yard; but, it ended up being so fun to have them here!
To make a long story short, the brothers (in particular) were like kids in a candy store here. As they walked from room to room commenting on the changes and the things that were the same, they told story after story of the years spent between those walls. They talked about the time their mother was washing dishes at the kitchen window and their dad fell off a ladder right before her eyes. They recalled sneaking out the window of what is now Sam's bedroom to climb on the roof and smoke their first cigarettes. And, they showed us the very back of the bathtub - the side that is up against the wall now - on which their aunt had painted a mural of flowers so long ago. As it turns out the "grime" I thought was making the pattern, is really a work of art. Isn't that awesome?!
I think it was a good experience for them to be here again. But, it also was a good experience for me. (That part was unexpected.)
|It is pretty much impossible to get a photo of the backside because it is so close to the wall and dark back there. But, they are pretty. Use your imagination.|
In the hallways and rooms of our house, while they flashed back to days before, my mind flashed to the future... I saw Sam sharing a room with a brother (maybe), sneaking up on the roof (definitely not smoking though), and dropping mud covered boots by the back door on snow days. Deep in my momma heart, I imagined my own little boy walking through this house one day and smiling at the memories of the place where he learned to walk, decorated his first Christmas tree, and earned his first "battle scar" by tumbling down the front steps. Maybe there will be a young couple, just starting their own family, showing them around...
I really don't know how long we will live here; or, to be honest, if Sam will remember any of those little details. But, it was SO good to be reminded that a house is about so much more than the furniture in it or the work that it requires. The notches in the door frames and the stories that are written there - those are what make a house a home.
Wherever home is, I want to embrace it. Sure, the chores still need to get done; but, those are not the things Sam will remember years from now. The messes - those will be remembered.
Those things that look like grime and dust? They might actually turn-out to be treasured pieces of art.
*Seriously, I know I sound like a spoiled brat - and, in a sense, I guess I am. Please know that I really am grateful for our home, and I know there are millions of people who pray for my "problems."