Tag: houses

The Faded Blue Rug That Changed Everything

 

“We’re going to sleep in the new house tonight,” my dad announced one summer evening.  There were no beds in the new digs yet, just sleeping bags on the living room floor, yet none of us demurred.  Our current house, a stucco ranch set back in a lot with another brown stuccoed rental in front, had seen us through a year.  I’d finished eighth grade in this place: studied the anatomy of bird wings, made mnemonics for plant terms, recorded myself reading off grammar terms and definitions, and drove my older brother to my door saying “Would you shut that off?!” when I played back the tape. I’d stayed up until the wee hours reading my book report selections the night before they were due to avoid the fat, gaping zero we’d been promised for failing to finish.  (I made it through Gulliver’s Travelers, but had to give up on a tome called Bangkok.)

Brown. The old three-bedroom house was dark brown, from the rugs to the drapes to the trim.  There was the perimeter outdoors where us kids had played a game of hide-and-seek with the neighbor kids, racing to spy each other through parallel windows and laugh. We got in trouble for that–we had trampled the landscaping.  I remember fine black dirt, pepper or eucalyptus providing shade. A chain-link fence bordered a parched back yard where I’d felt mild interest in a tent one of us had put up.

On Saying Goodbye to a House

 

Certain years with my daughters have been especially sweet. I still savor the time they were three and four and went to a small preschool two mornings a week. On chilly mornings, they went bundled in little sweaters to this place of enrichment and nurture, with lots of great things to do and toys to play with. It had been a good pick for them.

This last year has been difficult in some ways, for sure. And the summer ended with my girls packing up their things and moving on to college together. Now I’ve picked up a second part-time job, and I’m figuring out how to best scale down. But it’s not an easy decision. This morning, I had to take some more pictures of the house that has been our home since last October. Here, we were warm and secure in the winter and enjoyed glorious walks all summer. We cooked (well, I cooked, mostly) and ate together with phones generally not allowed. We had a lot of interesting conversation, daily silliness, and times where I would say we were actually witty. At least we think so. And this modest 1970’s house was the quiet backdrop. I quickly came to love its soothing colors in the upstairs rooms, and how we had arranged things to make it all our own. More below:

The Places that Haunt Us

 

2011_Endangered_Grace_Towns_Hamilton_HouseThere should be no reason for this house to appear so often and so vividly in my dreams, but even now, 20 years after I moved out, it calls to me. Often I return to it at night in sleep, stealing my way in while the owners are away, and wandering the halls looking for something I’ve left behind. There is a secret buried there, hidden in the walls or left in a nook in the garage or basement, and I need to find it and get out before the owners return. Sometimes my sister is there with me and we search together, occasionally I bring my wife along and hope I don’t turn up anything embarrassing.

I let myself into the old foursquare house through the side door (only guests use the great front door that opens into the massive front hall and central staircase), and poke my head into the garage. I can smell the must and motor oil, and there are a few bikes scattered about. I wander into the kitchen and check the freezer that I used to raid for frozen Twinkies, then the stacks of unread magazines by the microwave. I push the swinging door from the butler’s pantry into the grand dining room, expecting to hear my father laughing over some joke, but the room is dark and silent.

I wander all over the house, from bright attic down to the basement, though even now I avoid the room behind the furnace for fear of menace that always seemed to lurk there. I may be an uninvited spirit, but within that shadowy existence of dreams are nightmares best left undisturbed.