Ode to a House

I miss my house. And yes, Mom and Dad (who I know are reading this), I miss you, too, but that’s not the point of this entry. The point is, I miss my house. And I miss it in a way that few other people can say they can.

Until September 1, 2006, I had never moved. I had only lived in college dorms and in the house my parents had lived in since they got married. So this fall marked the first time in my life I had a different permanent address.

Now, I can’t say enough how much I love my apartment. Great location (near both BC and the B line), lots of space, my own room, even a sunroom and a little porch. And it came with a lot of furniture. The only issue I have with my new place is that the water pressure’s too low for me to take a bath.

But still, I miss my house. You get to know a place when you live there for 22 years. You appreciate its location, even though you’re still mad at your parents for telling you, when you were a kid, that the street is too busy for you to ride your bike (it isn’t). It’s five minutes from your elementary, middle, and high school. Down the street from a convenience store, post office, pizza place, dry cleaner, hairdresser, gas station, and, until recently, video store. Ten minutes from a mall (and the state of New Hampshire, where there’s no sales tax). Two minutes by foot from a waterfall and a set of railroad tracks, across which run freight trains whose noise in the night you no longer notice. Across the street from neighbors who have ponies and chickens, and who used to have goats and a donkey. Close enough to a shooting range for you to joke that your house is one of the few places where you’re equally likely to hear gunshots and a rooster crowing. (When you were little, you didn’t know what the gunshots were and used to imagine that a blackboard had fallen off a truck somewhere nearby.)

And then there’s the house itself. It’s a white house with gray shutters and a gray front porch, and a white lamp post in the middle of its small front lawn. Built sometime in the late 1800s, originally as a blacksmith shop. The houses around it were a tavern, a community barn, a post office. You used to imagine that there were ghosts in it, even wrote stories for school about your house being haunted, although you’ve never seen anything remotely supernatural. The front of the house looks old, but your parents had an addition put on right before your sister was born, which resulted in a long, skinny house. There’s a gray bench on the porch, and a door that is either screen or glass paned, depending on the season. The screen/glass door and the actual door open on opposite sides, which you never thought about until your friend Jenna pointed it out.

There’s a gigantic pine tree on one side of the house. On the other, by the driveway, is a cherry blossom tree. For about three days in April, it blooms into these beautiful pink flowers. After that they all fall off the tree and it looks kind of like pink-tinted snow.

There’s a patio out back, with a basketball hoop from when your sister played basketball. There’s lawn furniture on the patio, underneath the branches of this tree that you think is called a catalpa tree. You used to lie on the lounge chair and read all the time. There’s a toolshed, and a tiny hill, which was great for sledding when you were little. You also used to have a sandbox and a swingset. And behind the house there’s a swamp, and woods that go on for awhile.

You have, like many homes, a living room and a dining room, both of which you never use unless there’s company. There’s the kitchen, the family room (the one with the TV and piano and comfortable chairs—the room you actually use), and the porch, which has furniture but which you more often than not use as a mudroom. There’s a pantry off the kitchen, which you and your sister and cousins, for some reason, used to think was a great hiding place. The basement isn’t finished (which you always hated growing up). You need a ladder to get to the attic, which holds your Christmas ornaments and some random fur coat (?) and has nails sticking out of the ceiling. Towards the back of the second floor are your parents’ bedroom and bathroom. Near the top of the stairs is the bathroom you and your sister use. Opposite the staircase is your sister’s room, and at the front of the house is your room.

And yes—I don’t think there’s anything original I can say about that. Everyone remembers their bedroom most of all. It’s the place where you read your favorite books at night, cried into your pillow, and sat on your floor with your friends in sixth grade listening to Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill. It’s where you had a shelf where you put the porcelain angels your grandmother gave you on your birthday every year. Where you wrote your favorite lyrics on the edges of your bulletin board with white-out pen. Where you made a list of things your seventh-grade teachers said over and over and posted it on your bedroom wall. Where you hung a large glow-in-the-dark star you had everyone sign after you got at the Museum of Science when you were there for your friend’s birthday party. Where you opened up your armoire on the day of your dance recital when you were nine and, because you were wearing lipstick for one of the few times in your life thus far, kissed the inside of the door to see the lipstick mark. Where you would go into your closet and turn on your light when you wanted to finish your book and it was past your bedtime. Where you stored every notebook you’d ever owned, with every short story and poem you’d ever started and some you’d finished since you were six, under your bed. The place that, despite your incredible love for your new apartment and your bedroom therein, you still find yourself missing.

Or maybe that’s just me.

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