Sunday, March 15, 2009

Walls Tell Stories

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Brown Thrashers are back! Check.


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Mr. Biggins, our well-mannered houseguest, went home yesterday after five fun-filled days with the girls and losing one game after another. Rather than to hang in there and try to win, he quits the game and acts rather dignified and uninterested. Male pride, I guess. Bostons don’t give up a game. Ever. Never!


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He watched the driveway for minutes at a time and I wondered if he was waiting for Gina to appear, missing her.

We’re so busy giving the house a facelift this spring! In this post I expressed my disgust for the condition of our bedroom linens. After a few months of agonizing over the right choice of bedspread or comforter, we headed to a mall south of the city yesterday where I bought the first one that moved me. I liked it. I bought it. Here it is.


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Too bad those pretty shams and accent pillows are hidden under a cheap Vellux blanket. This, folks, is the way it is until I develop a plan to separate the bedroom ensemble from the dogs without hurting their feelings. :o)

A few days ago I received the nicest e-mail from a special friend who admired our freshly painted walls she saw in one of my recent posts. Her husband was looking over her shoulder at the photos and commented that he wishes to live graciously in a newer house like mine. They’ve been living in their home for thirty-four years and she asked him, what would happen to the ducks, birds, squirrels, raccoons, and possums we’ve catered to for so long if we moved away?

On my way to work that morning, I couldn’t shake her e-mail from my mind nor my rush of emotions. Here’s an excerpt from my reply to her, slightly edited.

…About the house. Sometimes, I’d trade my new home for the opportunity to grow roots in one place like you and your husband have done. A few states away from here, there is a home we lived in for fifteen years. In it, there is a time capsule hidden behind a basement wall that Gina made when she was seven years old. Her elementary handwriting and goofy sketches made with a permanent marker and paint are no doubt still gracing the undersides of the basement steps leading upstairs to the kitchen and on the cinderblock wall behind the furnace. Since 1992, there is a beloved cat buried under the largest, most graceful weeping willow tree out back. She’s wrapped in a white crocheted baby blanket with her favorite catnip toy and blue food bowl, labeled “Mini”. Nearby dear Mini, are the remains of about two dozen gerbils buried in assorted jewelry gift boxes. All were buried with our hearts breaking. We left so much behind.


To hell with the glamorous walls and ceilings and open floor plans I have as they only hold three years of memories and little character. God, the older I get the more I realize how old I am and just how far away the 1970’s and 1980’s are from here and now…

So tell hubby to hold on. Hire a painter and keep those walls! Seriously. Tell him what I said, OK?

Gee, I’m all teary-eyed now, here at work, 7:55 a.m.


And there I sat at my desk, bawling like a big ole baby. I’ve had a few dreams of visiting that home and I did not like what the new owners did to it. I do, however, think the wallpaper in the foyer and hallways I chose back in the late 80s - a pastel floral that reminded one of cake and ice cream - needed to go, for sure. Yeah, parts of that house looked like a birthday party for a few years.


Given the opportunity to visit that house today, I’d climb the stairs to the second floor and predict the creak in the floorboards before getting to the linen closet. Peek inside every bedroom. Back down in the living room I'd hear my Dad tickling the ivories and echoes of giggles where the Christmas tree stood at the big front window, brightly lit in twinkling multi-colors. Yes, I liked them to gently twinkle as much as I liked that big picture window that was once trimmed in mint green paint. Turning around to the dining room, and rounding the corner to the kitchen, I’d look for a small tear in the linoleum on the pantry floor. To the right, there’s a corner of the family room where a metal dog crate sat for two growing pups in the 90s. Facing right again, I’d take a walk through the sunroom, pass the pond, way down the back, towards the wooded stream, behind the barn red shed, and stand under the weeping willow, where I’d see images of Chloe’s young face and remember her shenanigans with the birds and quirtles and bunnies and turtles and hornets and crayfish. Quite frankly, I think a visit would be too much for me to handle. I’d want to move in for a week with a box of wine and write a damned book!

There are those who seem to keep moving forward, not caring about much, and never looking back. I certainly do move happily forward but always, always look back to love the footprints and echoes…


And about the walls that surround you? They really do matter.

24 comments:

Beth said...

I'm with you on that one Mary. I'll turn 50 this year and have lived in 12 homes in 10 states. I have been in my current home 5 years and that is the longest that I've ever lived anywhere. It hurts to think about all the lost memories.

A New England Life said...

Glad Mr. Biggins is back home where he feels most comfortable. Though I'm sure his time with your girls will never be forgotten ;)

Though I look forward to someday living in a newer home of our own I wonder how I'll cope with leaving this one? This is the only home my husband and I have ever known together. The first home I've found true happiness in. Raised our girls. Loved our animals. Lived an adult life. Learned so damn much ABOUT life.

How do you leave that all behind? Not sure, but I do know my husband will be proding and reasoning with me the whole way. Though I'm not one to be stuck in the past I can picture myself sitting here crying after the last piece of furniture goes. Remembering love, laughter, tears, little feet running up and down the hall . . . but life has to go on and I think if you are still surrounded by those who make you WHO you are, and your life what it is, it will all be okay.

What a thought provoking post. Love the Brown Thrasher!

Kallen305 said...

Love the thasher photos and dog photos. The one w/ the two of them playing frisbee is so cute!

I am with you on memories and homes. I don't move much and the houses that I do move into are always old and I think about the memories of those who lived here before me. The one I bought is over 100 years old and I am planning on staying here another 10 years.

Iris said...

Sometimes I envy the old-timers in our town who have several generations close at hand. My 16-year-old cat has lived in 9 different apartments and 1 house in 6 cities in 5 states. Me? Add a few to those numbers. I've seen and done a lot of interesting things, but it can be tough to keep meeting and greeting after all those moves.

And about the thrashers—folks keep saying they're back, but mine never leave. They just get real quiet and stealthy in winter, but I see them out there all year. We're both on the borderline of summer-only thrashers, which might explain it.

RuthieJ said...

We've lived in this house for 20 years but I'd feel worse about giving up the yard than I would about the house itself.
I love those pictures of the pups playing on your *GREEN* grass! (we'll probably see the green grass about the same time we see the thrashers--I'm guessing at least 3 weeks yet)

NatureWoman said...

I'm really tired of moving, so I'm staying put in my home. Your home is beautiful, Mary, and you're making memories there!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I feel much the same way that you do Mary. I moved a LOT when I was a child and I swore that I wouldn't move my children around a lot. I didn't and I can say since I have been an adult I have only moved a few times. The last time I lived in my house for 15 years and where I live now I have lived 15 years. Even though I have never liked the house we live in now I love the memories we have made and the garden would be difficult to leave now. When I married my DB we both had houses. We were going to sell both and build a big new house. Well now I am glad those plans didn't work out. I am older now and barely keep our little house cleaned and I retired early. I would still be working lots to pay for a big house. So things work out.

Diane C. said...

Beautiful picture of the Mr. Biggins and one of the girls looking at the driveway through the fence. I loved reading about your old house with the 80's pastel floral wallpaper, brings back memories of my old house.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Twelve domiciles in one year was my personal worst. You express so eloquently the growth of our home roots. After almost 17 years on Indigo Hill I sometimes think about what it would take to get me out of here, what moving would be like--and like Ruthie, I would miss the yard--ok, it's a BIG yard--as much as I'd miss the house.

All right, now I'm thinking about pet graves. Sigh.

A lovely post, even if it makes me choke up.

NCmountainwoman said...

We lived in the same house for more than 20 years. Although it was a lovely home in a lovely area, I never felt like it was MY house. I'm not sure why. The guiding decision for purchasing the house was for our children, uprooted to Wisconsin at the ages of 10 and 13. The house, yard, and school district were perfect for them. While there were so many happy memories there, I did not feel sorry at all to leave it.

Our current home is not the first house we built, but it felt like home from the beginning. Even though we have been here only two years, I love this house more than any other.

I have no clue why your posts tug at my heart strings, but I'm going now to pull out pictures of houses we have left. I think it's good to reflect on those memories.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Mary, Neat post!!!! Houses do matter. I have lived in so many houses through the years --and most of them don't leave many memories. I hated it when my mother sold 'my' family home and moved into a smaller house. That was never home to me. Now--the people who bought my family home have renovated it so much that I can't even recognize it. When I saw it last, I just cried. It was not MY home anymore.

We just got home from a trip to Arkansas where we were in an Ice Storm. Great trip---but I can do without that!!!! ha

Hugs,
Betsy

T.R. said...

Beautiful post Mary. I think this is a case of "you can never go back". Just a few miles from here is my childhood home - home for 35 years. And yet driving by it is heart breaking. I block it out of my mind. It now in a faraawy place. Facebook has brought me back to all the neighbors, one at a time, - and they have all moved away as well. And we go back there to that street virtually and we reminisce - it still remains a magical place to all of us. I miss the side yard - I never got to China (that way) and never found the dinosaur bones. I have four dogs buried there representing 25 years of unconditional love. A couple of cats, at least. Jerbils by the dozen. A big lizard my uncle gave me and in his stomach a beloved anole that I loved so much. That wooded backyard lot is where, by the hours, I discovered birds.

Jayne said...

Can't wait to get a peek at the new bedding. ;c) Hope you can formulate a plan.

My parents have been in the same house for 42 years. Memories do live in those spaces for sure. Since I've left home, eight years is the longest I've stayed in one house. I hope this is our last stop.

Peg Silloway said...

There's your book title, Mary - "Footprints and Echoes." It's your ability to relate to all living things that make your photography and writing so moving! My friend wrote an article about saying "Goodbye" to your home before you move and thanking it for all the good and not-so-good times. (http://activerain.com/blogsview/406/Saying-Goodbye-To-Your-Home). Walls do indeed tell stories.

DogLover said...

Dog Crates are a safe way of transporting your dog in the car, as well as a way of taking him places where he may not be able to run freely. If you properly train your dog to use a dog crate, he'll think his dog crate is a safe place and will be happy to spend time in his dog crate when needed. This is an excellent source for Pet Supplies.

dguzman said...

You rock, Mary.

Corey said...

I suddenly have an urge to go buy a dog crate. Perhaps after that, I'll get a dog!


I think we need stiffer word verification standards.

KGMom said...

Awww--you make me feel great since I do live in a house that we have occupied since 1980.
No buried gerbils or time capsules, but lots of memories.
And we can slap a coat of paint on from time to time. It isn't glamorous, but it is home!

Robert V. Sobczak said...

Mary! Those are tears of joys ... I get the same way thinking about "The Mudderland!" There's two houses in particular back in those parts that a part of me is still in ... probably haunting the places (as a good ghost).

Larry said...

I sometimes think about the the house I grew up in and think back about it nostagically.I evven drive by it once in a while but it just isn't the same. It's the memories that matter, not the house itself.Love those brown Thrashers-we don't have many round these parts Mary.

Angie said...

Aaaah, Mary, Mary, you said it all so well...roots, memories, love......

JeanMac said...

In April, it will be 19 years in this house - doubt we;ll see 20 years in it but stranger things have happened:) Good post, Mary, and I sure love your color choices.

Rose said...

Mary, This is such a beautiful, poignant post. Five years ago we moved from the home we had lived in for 26 years to this house, which actually was built by my in-laws so it holds its own memories. The old house had so many things that constantly needed repairing, but it was so hard to leave behind all the memories. You've reminded me that Buddy the Bunny and a few special cats were left behind there.

Mel said...

Hola Mary,
I am one of those, who feels that more than a house, you are leaving part of your life. To me, somehow, it feels like part of the memories go away too!
It happened when the amazing log house of my grandparents was sold and a building was built instead.
The flowers and the garden gone! The pirate games, and the Tarzan adventures in the high trees dissappeared just like that.
Some of my aunts told me I was acting as a baby, crying while the machines kept tearing appart my childhood happy memories... They all got new houses, the more modern the better!
I still dream of walking in that house to find my grandma's collection of hats, playing with them and having her tell me stories about the hats, most of them just made up by her, but kept me fascinated for hours!
Ouch, this post hurt a bit...