December 2, 2015 writing


Today we are selling our house at 1229 Pleasant Street.

A house is a roof with walls on top of a foundation. It’s a building where people live. I was never really in love with the house at 1229 Pleasant Street. It was narrow. The kitchen was closed off. Our only bathroom was upstairs. The paint was peeling off the outside and we never had the money to fix it. Until we got new windows, it would freeze on the inside. You could feel a winter breeze passing through the house.

A home? That’s different than a house. A home is what happens in and around the space of a house. It’s the life lived. The home at 1229, I will miss dearly.

The big porch, where we’d talk and laugh so late in the night. Where I could see everyone else, on their porch, or just sit and think or write or play guitar or watch the kids color the sidewalk, and I’d chase them inside for bedtime.

Inside, and the way the kids would ride their tricycles and scooters all the way up and down the house on those bumpy old wooden floors. When they were young, how our kids would slide down the stairs on their tummy and giggle. The smell of garlic and onions and dinner coming from that closed off kitchen. Kids on the floor amongst toys. The light shining in from the sun and moving across the floor as the day passed. The rooms full of people standing and eating and talking.

The yard, where the girls grew up in spring and summer. Where I gardened for three years. Where Tonya and I built a cedar slate fence from scratch. Where we wished for apples and even a couple years got some. Where we’d roast a lamb. Our ad hoc ghetto campfire.

The alley, where the girls learned to ride bikes.

And, maybe most of all, the space around the space of our home: our neighbors. Those on the other side of the wall at 1231, and those across the alley, and to the west and east, and across the street. And the way we all gently disregarded those property lines, and would walk into each others houses at just the right time, always welcome.

I know I take all these memories with us. They don’t go away because we sign a piece of paper. Those memories belong to us, for as long as we’ll keep them. And they also don’t belong to us; I believe we leave memories behind in that house, and they live on there in space of the house in a ghostly, collective subconscious way. So they aren’t gone.

But selling feels so much more permanent and real than having not sold.

But no condition is permanent. No condition is permanent.

The house is a hundred years old. We’re just another chapter in its story. 1229 Pleasant lives on, with another chapter, another family, another way of becoming a home, that space in and around the house.

During that severe and tragic wind storm a couple of years back, I remembered seeing those huge dark clouds roll from the northwest and feeling the weight of the wind push the air, and I was afraid, wondering if our house would hold up. And then I put my hand on the door frame, and I felt the strength of those hundred years. Maybe I even felt the memories of the families and people long gone, who had come and gone. And I knew we’d be ok. I knew the house had been through more.

Our memories, our home in that house, is part of that strength, for the next people that live there. I’m glad for that.

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