Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Home Is...

It was the first time our children, Tucker and Casey, had seen the house Dave and I were close to buying.  At ages ten and seven, our kids had lived their lives on a school campus, eating most meals in a cafeteria with other kids and their families, having the run of a gym, playground, and athletic fields, even tubing downstream when the creek became a rushing river during Hurricane Gloria.  Life was good. 

Still, this house was pretty cool.  


We’d toured the interior, and the kids had scoped out the rooms that would be theirs.  We’d stood, all four of us, in the vast fireplace that had been the heart of this home in the eighteenth century.  And then, we’d headed outside to explore the woods-encircled yard.

Dave and I studied the roof, which we knew we’d have to replace.  An unwelcome expense, but then we’d be set for the next twenty-five years.  A lifetime!  The kids raced around, checking out the barn, playhouse, old well, and the shed built around a gnarled apple tree.  




When Tuck spotted a low-hanging dogwood branch, he leapt up and grabbed it to swing.  With a startling snap, the branch split.  Tuck landed on his feet, rattled but unhurt, as Dave and I looked at each other wide-eyed.  We hadn’t bought the place yet and already we were breaking things.

Dave found a strong, straight cedar limb near the edge of the woods.  We propped the sagging branch back into position and sheepishly headed to the car. 


Twenty-seven years later, that cracked branch is still sprouting a few limp leaves come spring.  Twenty-seven years later, and we’ve re-shingled the roof again.  Twenty-seven years later, Tucker is 37, and Casey, 34: both are married, and Tucker has a son.  Both recently purchased their own homes.  It’s not like I wonder where the time has gone: so many stories, milestones, and memories have filled those twenty-seven years… Still...  Yeah.  Where has the time gone?  

The other night, the phone rang around 10:00, late for a phone call.  Luckily, I didn’t glance at the clock or I would have panicked.  An accident?  A death?   No, thank god.  It was Casey, running another load of bins and boxes from her apartment to the new house.   “Mom.  I just had a thought.  You were only a few years older than me when you bought the house in Easton.  And you already had two kids!  That is crazy pants!”

It is crazy pants.  Casey and Tucker are such grown-ups, more than I am it seems sometimes.  But it is amazing to think of all the years, all the living, all the change that has brought me from Casey’s age to 64, that has brought my kids from those scampering little ones to the wonderful adults they have become.





After bringing over four carloads of boxes on Casey and PJ’s second night in their new house, we sat on the rug on the floor (no furniture yet) in the newly painted “NYPD Blue” living room sipping celebratory Proseccos.  It was easy to conjure myself at their age, standing in our foyer when we were moving in 1990, gazing at bare walls... and our future.  My thirty-eight year old self felt an empathetic tug of nostalgia for the former owner as I pictured him standing where I was, giving a sweeping look into the empty rooms before closing the door behind him for the last time.  He had lived in the house with his wife and daughter for forty-five years.

Every so often, I broach the idea of selling our house to move into something smaller, something within walking distance to town and biking distance to a beach.  I’m trying to be practical.  A number of friends have told me, “you want to move out by the time you’re 70, when you still have the energy.”  70!  And yet, incredibly, that’s not so far off. 

I love the idea of a walking, biking life, but I wish I could take this house with me. With its porches, huge fireplace, and decrepit, finally dying, dogwood, it is home.  I don’t want to abandon it. What if someone who doesn’t appreciate its history buys it?  Someone who sees it as old, rather than venerable?  Someone who thinks it would be fine to rip up the wide-plank floors and wrench out the massive beams?  Omigod.  I can't stand to think of it.  This house is more than a building; it’s an embracing friendand we have been its charges as well as its stewards.  Over its 235 years, it has been infused with spirit: ours, those who have gone before us, its own.  Fact is, it actually is home to some spirits, but that’s another story.


 For now, moving is off the table. Last time I mentioned the idea to Dave, he shook his head and said, “Have to tell you, Lea, I can’t see myself leaving this house anytime soon.  I’m only leaving this place in a box.”  Oh.  That’s pretty clear.  Good.  I can settle in, love my house, and for now, not worry about being practical.  This house is perfect for visits from grandchildren, the perfect place for grandchildren to remember







10 comments:

Anonymous said...

How I love seeing your beautiful house, the images of your gorgeous family through the years. What a place! Perfect for you guys - and grandchildren too. I love this piece. And you. xxx Tricia

Gerry said...

Your house is the definition of "home". It reflects the love you and Dave have for history, building memories, and family. I love visiting there. Though it would also be fun for you to live closer....

Lisa said...

I love your house. You know mom would haunt you if you sold it!

Lea said...

Some have said to me, "Don't you feel all the 'activity' here? There's a lot going on in this house!" All I feel is good vibes, but there have been some interesting sightings and sensations....so maybe your mom has joined the unseen gang, Lisa! And thank you to Gerry and Tricia for your kind words. XO

Gail Bromer said...

I do love your house, and it is full of memories, but as one who has done the transition from that life to the next...the next phase is full of possibilities. Moving gave me a chance to clear things both within me, and the things we accumulated, and to revaluate what was important and what to hold onto for the next thirty years. I needed to let go in order to make room for the new me. I don't get know what is ahead, but the unknown possibilities and the excitement that comes in the discovery could only happen for me once I had been replanted.

Laurie Stone said...

Lea, Your house is so beautiful, I don't blame you for being conflicted. Randy and I are going through the "to downsize or not to downsize" debate. Its not easy. In the meantime, we're fixing it up in case we decide we decide to pull the trigger next spring. Gulp. Great post!

Casey said...

I cried. PJ cried (don't tell him I said that.) I cry when I think about you and dad ever leaving that house. It's home. So many houses are shells for what's going on inside and this house is the heart of what's going on around it. It extends to the trees and yards and gardens you've planted with thoughtful love. I can't wait for MY babies to get to play in the yard!

Lea said...

Ohhhh....I love that image too Case! Xo

David Hughes said...

Your home is so inviting and so filled with love. Thanks to you two wonderful beings that have created a glorious safe have for family and friends. Love you and dave so much. Your Weekapaug friend, David

Louise Foerster said...

Love, love, love this piece -- such a marvelous love letter to the house and home that provided the place to live, to raise your family, and to cherish life!