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The house

Posted: October 14, 2010 4:39 p.m.
Updated: October 18, 2010 5:00 a.m.

The house has always been there. She will, most likely, always be there. She has never wavered from her foundation or from her purpose. She has always endured. She has reared our children, celebrated our joyous occasions, wept for our unfortunate circumstances, helped us bury our dead.

She is a family home for certain, but she is not encumbered by the prerequisites of DNA or family name. She does not discriminate between the known and the unknown. She is the lighthouse of our family and has guided our foundering ships and set sail our wandering hearts for over 150 years. During this time, she has also shed the delicacy of her upbringing and has managed to sail freely through the inevitable winds of change that surely come with each generation.

It is a funny feeling, to give life to an inanimate object, to replace brick and mortar with blood and bone, to replace wood and plaster with tears and heart and sinew. It is easily done, however, when your earliest memories melt into the fabric of a place, when the backdrop of your upbringing takes on a life of its own.

I think the human mind helps in this process. We often associate memories with where they take place. A room can sometimes only be as pleasant or dreary as the prevailing memory of the space. It makes sense that a lifetime of human emotion concentrated into one place could make that place come alive.  And so it is with the house. 

The house, however, is not quite family. She sometimes evokes the same passions and emotions, but she will never fully earn a place at the table. I have realized over the years that although she has indeed been the lighthouse of our family, she has not been the light. The light, too, has always been there. The light will, most likely, always be there. It never wavers from its foundation and has always endured. It has reared our children, celebrated our joyous occasions, wept for our unfortunate circumstances, helped us bury our dead. The light, you see, is the family. It always will be.

So although I discount the house as a full-fledged family member, I cannot help but suspect that I have made her mad, that maybe I have hurt her feelings in some way. This is the downside to giving life to inanimate objects. She will get over it, however. She is not really a true member of the family anyway, remember. Just to be sure though, I may just finish painting one of her rooms this weekend or give her a power wash. I’m sure it would make her feel better and, besides, what can it hurt?

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