I'm reproducing two entries today, one from before we moved into our house, and the next from just after.
View of the back of our house, the day of our house warming party
January 18th, 2010 - twenty-three
I woke up this morning, with one thing finally sinking in about buying the house: New roots. I did the roll call of every place I've ever called 'home.' My number is twenty-two. That's every place I've lived with my parents, that's counting the trimaran, and every dorm room I've lived in, every apartment rented with friends, and the two apartments rented with Loren. Every place I've ever hung my posters on the walls, learned the quirks of the kitchen, every place I've ever love, and lived in, made new friends and lost track of the old, investigated the cupboards and figured out which wall to place my bed against.
I loved them all, my little 'hobbit hole' in Oakland's Dimond district, our beach house on Harbour Island, my little bunk above the kitchen table in the boat. I embraced each completely as my own, even as I knew that on some level it was always temporary. The longest I have lived in one place, is a few months shy of four years.
I guess I just started to feel the permanence of this thing we are doing, the buying of a home. And not just in the scary commitment of a 30 year mortgage kind of way. But in the finally being able to relax all the way. Embrace a place all the way. See it as yours all the way through. Paint the walls any colour you like. Plant whatever you like in the garden. Pull up the lino and put down some tile. Install a coat rack without worrying what the landlord might think. Plan on renovating the kitchen some time in the next ten years. Turn the garage into a guest room some time down the road. That kind of time scale. I don't know. It's a type of 'roots' I've never had. Ever. The first time my parents bought a house, was mere months before I moved out.
Our sunny little lounge (aka living room)
February 24th, 2010 - A sense of place
I heard a radio interview once with this lady who had written a book about how to connect with your house's history. Like genealogy for your house. I thought it was a silly idea. One more way our transient generation, feeling disconnected from a sense of community and a sense of place, try to create a sense of connection for ourselves.
But here I am, slowly getting to know my new home. I still think it's a silly idea, and yet... I have become obsessed with these vintage light shades. These house is 1950's, but the current decor is all over the map. The light shades in question, though, are so clearly from another era. There's two in the kitchen, one in the older bathroom. Then there's some anonymous modern stuff, and a bare bulb in each bedroom. Then I found four more of the vintage shades in a cupboard down in the workshop. I've identified two that I'd like to restore to their former glory. So instead of getting modern shades installed in the bedrooms, we're living with the bare bulbs until I figure out how to make that happen.
Today, I was changing the light bulb in my favourite kitchen light - a sort of spherical honeycomb blown glass thing - and realised it was really filthy. I just spent half an hour carefully cleaning it with a washcloth and some dish soap. When I was done, I held it up to the light and wondered when it had last looked this shinny and new. I thought of the people who purchased it, and wondered whether they were proud of this lovely modern thing. Or maybe it was just a common, ubiquitous light shade when it was new. Something no one gave much thought to until I came along.
I found myself wondering about these people, how they lived and what they were thinking when they picked the appalling wallpaper in the bathroom. And suddenly the idea of doing genealogy on your house didn't sound so silly.
The honey-coloured lamp shade, newly cleaned
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