Hello, awesome readers.
First off, thank you Facebook friends for your feedback on the first two paragraphs of this post. They’ve been haunting me the way that words haunt a writer that has something important to say.
Secondly, if this is your first time here, please note that what you’re about to read is slightly unusual for this blog. I both apologize for that and un-apologize since this is my blog and I can pretty much write about whatever I want to. I say “pretty much” because I have kids and parents and respect, y’all.
Thirdly, I suggest you climb into a floaty before you continue reading because what follows is deep.
Consider yourself warned.
I’ll never forget the first time I visited the house. It was a hot day and if you can imagine, everything and anything that could possibly represent 43 years of a family’s life was spread across the yard like a thick layer of melting butter on toast.
An auction. And from what I could see, a “successful” auction. A flock of hen-like people had stopped by and all were busy picking through the thousands of items. Some seeking their next treasure, others simply looking for a deal. I was there because I’d heard about a lawnmower.
“The house is up for auction too,” I was told.
I suppose it’s important to mention: at the time, the lips that spoke those words belonged to someone I referred to as my boyfriend. But that’s only a fraction of this story. A small fraction. Perhaps.
As I watched the flock of people bend over table upon table of memories, I saw the melancholy line that exists between what was and what is.
What was … Children laughing. Chores getting yelled at. The every-day bustle of a house being lived in. You know. All the stuff that comes with growing a family.
What is … Empty bedrooms. Aging knees that cringe at the sight of stairs. Quiet corners that now echo to the sound of spider webs. The rhythmic creek of rocking chairs sitting side by side as eyes stare at the empty fragments of yesteryears.
The old couple selling the house lurked amongst the crowd as well. A bit of a social gathering, they smiled, they chitchatted, they watched as one by one their memories were auctioned off into the hands of neighbours and strangers. While well-composed, I could only imagine their own internal line. The one that separates the struggle between feelings of hope and an irate sense of invasion. You hope a lot of your things will get sold. At the same time, you swallow a growing lump in your throat as you watch the flock pry through your memories. The memories that – even though they lay exposed on a table – will only ever belong to you.
The dishes that had clanked through a thousand meals. The oak-framed mirror that had witnessed hair being braided, discoveries of lipstick, and suitcases filled with dreams as children moved into their own adult lives.
A stranger myself at this auction, I saw this line. Thick and heavy, the owners carried it with shoulders hunched and eyes filled with cataracts.
Sitting on the step outside the summer kitchen, looking at the people, the things, the view … I fell in love that day. And if you must know, I never did get to look at that lawnmower. As soon as I heard that the house was going to be auctioned off, I lost a little bit of my mind. That’s what happens when people fall in love – they go a little crazy. And while the house was still a stranger to me, I could already hear its sweet whispers of happily ever after. A promise I wanted to believe in.
Long story short, I joined in on the bidding for the house. The flock of people craned their necks as they watched bidders bid against bidders. After a few intense moments that lasted forever, I won.
It was an odd day. It had started with casual intentions about a lawnmower and by the end of it I owned a house in the country.
Some people (mostly people that I’m related to) said that the very act of buying a house in the middle of nowhere was a whim. But between you and me, awesome readers, the house wasn’t in the middle of nowhere. It was in the middle of everything I needed: quiet views and a place to think. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the house stood on the very brink of fresh beginnings. Exactly where I needed to be when all the truths would surface.
Over the next 18 months a lot of changes took place – both inside the house and inside of myself.
I discovered original, hardwood floors under years upon years of linoleum decades. Under carpeting I even found old newspaper pages from the early 1950s. At the same time, I realized that the someone I was referring to as my boyfriend was a boy, but not my friend. While I worked at stripping away the layers of time that had covered the wooden floors, I also worked at peeling away the layers of lies that had built an illusion around my perception.
Eventually the floors were beautiful. Shiny, old, and new at the same time. As for me, I like to think I turned out to be shiny, old, and new as well. But something happens when lies wear you down. Your shininess dullens. Your enthusiasm fades. But what emerges, I’m realizing, is something even better. I no longer feel the need to change myself into the expectations of others. Just like my old, new floors, I too am full of flaws. I embrace these now. And if the next someone doesn’t, well, I guess that’s his problem.
And that’s the story behind my house. The place where I discovered the old, new me. The house that in many ways, found me.