The house I grew up in was mostly unremarkable. It was like any number of one story ranch houses in our neighborhood, in a decidedly unhip, pre-TV show Nashville. My parents bought the house when I was on the way. We added on when I was about 11, at which time I got my own room. With a great deal of help, the Engineer built a deck that was to be one of the most well used parts of the house for years to come. We planted a garden. The Nurse got very proficient at tricks on a rope swing that hung from a favorite tree. We rehearsed plays for a community theater in the backyard and in the den, and we hosted cast parties and Christmas Eve open houses. Friends came and went via the backdoor and were told never to knock.
When my mother died in 2012, there was much talk among friends about memories of the house: eating pop tarts and watching MASH reruns, favorite plays, and of course parties. At the funeral, one friend spoke movingly about there being a sense of a church in our home, something that in large part I think my mother created, but that we all participated in in our own ways. It was a place people felt welcomed and cared for, a place people wanted to be.
I wrote some time ago about the house next door, which was torn down not too long ago to make way for something much more grandiose, what we call a McMansion. The conversion of this neighborhood has been going on for years, and at this point, our old home looks like a little out of place speck on a large lot, sandwiched between giants. The market is good, the time is right, and the Engineer needs to move on to a new sense of home, created elsewhere, for a new phase of his life. It’s sad to see the old neighborhood virtually disappear, and especially to see it becoming a place I would not necessarily want to live in.
It also has me thinking about that sense of home, church, welcome, and care. As much as the house was a symbol of it, steeped in it, felt through it, it is not in the house. Those intangible things as much as anything are the roots that I grew from. Those things stay with me