Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Fly Away Home

Ladybug ladybug
Fly away home
Your house is fire
And your children are all gone

I am safe and fine but I learned that the house I owned in Northampton is gone. Not through fire but through demolition. A friend wrote to tell me that it is totally different, set further back from the road, turned ninety degrees. The news blew me away, left me feeling shaky, like the ground had moved underneath me and now there is less of it there. It is like a further unlinking, disconnection from my past, marking how much has changed in my life since I left there on September 10, 2001.

It wasn't my idea to buy a house, it was M's (an ex), it was her parents' gift of money that was the down payment that put us in the market. I knew it was a mistake, that getting deeper in with her was not a good idea. The house was not particularly cute, the only appealing place was the back porch - that back porch was a haven for me throughout the time I lived there. When the inside with it's semi-done renovation annoyed me, when the lack of gracious architectural details galled me, when I was angry, when I was sad, when I was peaceful - there was the back porch warm like a blanket, snug like a slipper molded to your foot with it's view of woods, a giant oak tree, my porch held me.

When I realized I was leaving is when I realized how attached I was to this place, my first true home. Not because I bought it, not because I remortgaged it on my own after M and I split (I ended things just about one year from when we purchased it) but partly because it was the longest I had lived anywhere in my entire life. 18 Winslow Avenue was my home for nine years. It's hard to remember but I think the next longest I lived at one address was four, maybe five years. I have moved over thirty times but here was this ugly duckling that I made into a cozy nest and I didn't realize it until I needed to leave it. In the last few months I lived there Chris and I worked round the clock to fix it up; finally I had wood trim in my living room, my new countertop in the kitchen, the sweet wood brackets to the wide gaping doorway to soften the look and so the chi would flow better.

Before I knew I was leaving, I finally had the front garden the way I had pictured, immature but on it's way. Tears streamed down my face as I picked lettuce knowing I would not be there to do it next season. Every day for three weeks once the decision to move was made I cried. It took all my energy not to deck the realtor I thought was amazing when she told me I had to change things.

Now it's gone. My first thought when I heard was about sheet rocking the living room. January 1994 Chris and I were adding quarter inch sheet rock to the measly, dented, ripped wall that existed underneath the 70's wood paneling I had finally ripped off after attempting to paint over at least twice. It was the early days of our relationship and I was terribly happy, still feeling burdened by having a house I could not afford but glad I was able to make it nicer nonetheless. In a fit of giggly romance I grabbed a bottle of red nail polish and wrote our initials with a heart on the old wall - it was a silly thing that would never be seen. And now that wall, the symbol of my past is a pile of rubble.

Each summer when I pass through I visit my neighbor, the one right next door. I cannot imagine what it will feel like to be there and the little, nondescript white house that held no charm but that I nurtured into a home filled with my own kind of magic, made into a place where people felt welcome, that often could not hold all the laughter that was created there will be gone. There will be a hole in the ground that only I can see, that will make only me weep with knowledge that I have moved on.

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