The sign has been in our yard for more than a week now, but still, every time I see it I think, Who put that there? Why would anyone want to leave such a lovely, old house? But then I remember I put that there—or rather, I had our Realtor put that there—and I’m the one, we’re the family, who wants to leave this lovely, old house. “Need” is a better word than “want.” But despite its size, despite the problems that come with age, I love this house. I know more room will be nice. And I know we’ll patiently turn our new house into a home as we did this one, but I can’t help but feel sad about the possibility of leaving.
We had a small army of friends help us move from a townhouse in Mariemont to this old Dutch Colonial in Ft. Thomas on a cold, rainy, February day. I clearly remember, late that first night, sitting on our mattress on the floor in our bedroom (our queen-size box spring wouldn’t fit up our steep stairs), surrounded by boxes labeled “basement,” taking note of the house-noises I wasn’t yet familiar with—the noises that now sound like home—and thinking of possibility.
We were newlyweds. Our furniture was mismatched. We didn’t own a lawnmower. There was dark wood paneling in the sunroom, heavy velvet drapes in the living room, ornate brass ceiling fans hanging from the ceiling and paisley wallpaper that sort of matched the pink and blue tile in the bathroom. At the time, I thought us so very rich, so very lucky—and while some might not think it, we were.
Time flew, as it does. We painted—several rooms twice. We celebrated birthdays. We bought new light fixtures for every room. We hosted parties that went until early, early morning. We tiled. We played Scrabble in our pajamas on cold, winter nights. We landscaped. We celebrated summer with dinner on our deck. We took sponge baths and washed our hair in the kitchen sink for two weeks while our bathroom was completely remodeled. We brought home Tucker. We bought a new furnace and a new air conditioner. We squinted at pregnancy tests, trying to decide if there really was a second line or not. We propped up our stone foundation. We brought home Sophie. We built a beautiful fence. We changed jobs. We fixed cracks.
And now, it’s perfect. I love every room and I love everything that has happened in every room. And I know that five years from now I’ll be able to write a similar paragraph to the one above, just in a new setting. I love and hate that our life setting is about to change. But I also know that a backdrop is only that—and that it’s our words, our action and reactions, our choices and celebrations and arguments and bedtime routines and Sunday morning pancakes that will make any house a home, no matter how big or how small, no matter where.
“Home is not where you live but where they understand you.” —Christian Morgenstern