Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Family Makes A House A Home

The house was empty, save for the dirt that had been collecting for decades under the old furniture and a few odds and ends that no one laid claim to. The dirt sat in little piles where the furniture had been and my sister and her boyfriend sat on two old chairs eating spaghetti noodles with red sauce out of single pot with two plastic forks. The plates and silverware had all been packed and, with so few days left, going grocery shopping seemed silly, so they made due with what was left.

“Yeah, it’s pretty desolate over here,” she told me over the phone, her voice echoing in the empty living room.

When the house was full, it would knock and creak and groan as it settled in for the night. But now it’s still. Quiet, cold, hallow.

One last Sunday was spent around the kitchen table before the serious packing began. On Christmas Eve morning the five of us – me, my sister, my 2 brothers, and my sister in law – shared an organic, sprouted whole-grain, nitrate-free, breakfast (my health conscious siblings, so L.A.). We laughed and chatted and made plans for the future… Christmas day, the following week, the new year. Who would be where, and doing what, and when. We talked about the weather, and how good the food was, and jobs and school and the like. The normal, the mundane. It was perfect. For one more morning, it was our home and we got one last chance to feel at home in it.

Christmas day came and went – we were all someplace else (my sister’s boyfriend’s family was wonderful enough to have me over) – and then the rest of week flew by as we filled boxes and hauled truckloads to storage. I shipped my piano north to my apartment (no it doesn’t really fit, but what can you do) and packed up all my priceless childhood mementos. We sent my father’s clothes and old shoes to goodwill, picked out the family heirlooms we each would keep, and divvyed up the good bottles of wine.

Friday night, I loaded my cardboard boxes and the tree my dad planted for me the day I graduated college into a rented pick-up and took one last look at what was left of the place. I walked through the rooms and marveled at all the work my dad had done… and at all the projects he left unfinished. I laughed at the missing floor in the kitchen and at the holes in the ceiling. The broken doors. The off center sky light. The stained hardwood and carpets, the cracked windows, the missing light bubs, the un-powered electrical outlets, the upside-down molding, the broken shower. The half finished tile around the pool, the trees in the yard that had long since outgrown their plastic pots (the roots ripped right through and plunged themselves into the ground.) The cracked driveway. The sagging garage. The glass-less green house, the dilapidated barn. The house that was my home for so long. I hugged the walls and thanked them for the memories.

And then I got in the truck, waved goodbye to my siblings, backed down the long, cracked, driveway one last time, and drove away.


I was half way down the street when I realized that I left my entire duffle bag - filled with all my clothes and shoes and stuff I had brought down for the week - back at the house. D’oh. U-turn and back I went. So much for my climactic, tear-jerking, final farewell. Instead, I left the house for the (actual) last time fending off my brothers’ teasing ("Forgot all your clothes!? What!? You dork! Oh, poor Kyle! He's a patient man." - ha ha, guys.) and listening to my sister laugh at their (not so) witty brotherly mocking. (Why must she encourage them?)


And much better.

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