My house smiled at me today. I didn’t actually see her smile, but I know she did. We’ve just had her painted, and I know that she feels good when we take care of her. Her old bare and peeling soffits and trim and window frames and siding are tightly sealed up, caulked and primed and painted. Her wooden sections all match once again, the old and the new, the worn and the fresh, all the same cream color, subtly contrasting with her century old brick façade. A shiny new coat of green paint covers both of her outside doors, a splash of color worn like a spring scarf. Her roof is new as of last fall, the upside of an aggressive hail storm that ripped through our area, and resulted in a rash of insurance claims and a windfall of business to the local roofing contractors.
I stood in front of her today and I told her she looked beautiful and she smiled at me. I didn’t actually see her smile, but I know she did. She smiled because she now knows and trusts me as her caretaker of the last sixteen years. She smiled because she now knows that I have been willing to put my own blood and sweat and money into keeping her solid and beautiful. She smiled because she knows me now as she has known all of her caretakers before me, likely dozens of men and women and even children who have cared enough about her to keep her structurally strong and vibrant and standing proudly for over 120 years. She smiled at me because I told her she looked beautiful.
I do believe that I am her caretaker. Yes, she is the house that protects us from the elements. Yes, she is the place where my family has made sixteen years worth of incredible memories. Yes, she is the only home my two children have ever known and likely will know until they move out on their own. Yes, she is the place where my family has shared smiles and tears, hugs and fights, ups and downs. Yes, she is the place where we have celebrated the miracle of babies born and mourned the deaths of those who have left us. Yes, she is the place where birthdays and anniversaries and holidays have been celebrated. Yes, she is the place that has made us feel content and warm and safe for sixteen years and hopefully many more decades to come.
Yes, she is all of those things and for that I consider myself immensely blessed. But she is also so much more. She is a piece of history that harkens back to the days before automobiles and electricity and indoor plumbing were prevalent. She is a reminder of where we came from, a time when houses were built on the backs of strong men with a meager assortment of hand tools, yet possessing incredible craftsmanship skills. She is a reminder of a time when rural living and one room schoolhouses and fresh food and hard work reigned supreme. She is our personal museum and I am her caretaker and I take that responsibility seriously.
My house smiled at me today. I didn’t actually see her smile, but I know she did. Someday, she will have a new caretaker, and a new one after that and on and on and on. For now though, I am her caretaker and I will continue to do my part to make sure she is still standing proudly for many more wonderful years to come. If I am lucky, down the road, when my wife and I are old and gray and feeble, we will still be able to stand in front of her and tell her that she looks beautiful. I hope that she smiles at us then as well… and perhaps even says “thank you.”
17 responses to “My house smiled at me today…”
You are quite the sentimental guy…I think I saw her wink at you too : )
I can be sentimental when I’m not making adolescent potty jokes!! 🙂
Where’s the before picture? You cheated; it’s mostly brick. I’d call that more of a trim than a paint job.
Houses are funny. Ever think that they might outlast you? I’m living in a house that has seen it’s builder die, it’s second owner go broke and it’s third owner divorced. But the house assures me that I’m it’s favorite. I gave it an extreme make-over.
You are right it was mostly a trim job,but WAY overdue. You can’t see it but most of the house is clapboard sided. When we renovated we used pre-painted, but never finished painting the rest of the place. Oh well, now its done, finally!
Glad to hear you have a good relationship with your place as well. I’m pretty sure mine will outlast me!
My friends, as I was writing this today, I came upon a post from one of my blogroll friends, http://www.momfog.com, whose family lost their home in a fire a day ago.
This was a stark reminder of the fragility of our day to day lives. If you have a moment please visit her website and send your thoughts and prayers to Erin and her family.
Thank’s for posting that update on momfog’s misfortune, I have been meaning to visit her blog, so I will now. I love your appreciation, deep caring, for your house. A house is a special thing. I feel those feelings towards my parents house, which they have lived in since 1952. We still go there for dinners on Tuesdays, and I can still visit the bedroom I lived most of my adolesence from. There’s real security in that.
Of course, right now, I am ‘deeply’ in the midst of my own rennovation project; I am building the worlds most tricked out bomb shelter/winecave/fat spa/guest room underneath my place in the crawl space. I am thinking this may add up to 2,ooo square feet of much needed ‘living space’. If I don’t suffocate or get arrested first, that is. I’ll be posting about it soon…
Wow… looking forward to hearing about your project!
I liked how eloquent you spoke about your home, made me look at my house and tel her “Sorry”
Thanks Bass… your comment made me laugh!!
Great post. I wouldn’t have guessed you had a sentimental side.
Please refer to comment #1 reply…
I think my house spits at me. Not when I’m looking, mind you, only when I’ve got my back turned. I’m going to wait until my house isn’t paying attention and then paint it. Payback’s a bitch house. You’re asking for neutral colors.
Funny!!! Houses will do that if you are not nice to them. Sometimes they do other stuff as well, like leak water through the roof onto you, or flood your bathroom with toilet sewage. You have to tread lightly!
We are constantly doing little repairs and projects — and only live in a 50-year-old one bedroom apartment! But I feel strongly, as does the sweetie, that a nurtured home repays you, as it does us, with quiet, lovely, comfort. Whether the windowboxes we made, the bathroom I designed (had to hire contractors!), the fresh coat of paint on the kitchen walls…it all add ups to making a house/apartment a true home.
Thanks! I agree, as you say “a nurtured home repays you.”
Great post, Steve…it’s a shame your house can’t read the lovely things you said about her! We don’t own our house, but treat it like we do…coming up on three years here now…