This old house

September 10, 2008 at 9:12 pm 1 comment

What I love the most about going to Grandma and Grandpa’s is that it always feels like a homecoming, even though I’ve never spent more than a few days at a time there — at least not that I can remember. It’s kind of odd to be so emotional about it, I guess: I’m practically a stranger to this place, connected by nothing more than a little genetic material and the tales of the family that grew up there. But it’s the stories that make the connection so strong.

The Harveys are great storytellers, and whenever a group of us gets together, I always learn something new about Dean, Del and their eight children: Therese, Greg, Donna, Jeff, Russ, Doug, Wayne and Roger. It’s funny to see your own quirks exhibited by other non-parental family members. Even though I rarely see these people, we have those things in common and it creates an air of familiarity, of sameness. In many ways, it’s like looking in a fun house mirror. And I see that it’s not just me that’s tenacious and imaginative, detail-oriented with grand ideas, who harbors a deep passion for ice cream, or is afraid of the pop-open biscuit can. It all stems from somewhere, from the DNA and traditions that we share. This house, for me, is the icon of it all.

And it feels good, having grown up in a Navy family, to feel connected to a place — even if it’s a place I’ve never lived. Especially because it’s a place I’ve never lived. It means there’s far more to it than just familiarity and physicality. This is a place where all those family stories were born — where they’re still born. It’s full of history and memories. It has a life of its own that sucks me in.

And although it’s become quite haggard and rough-looking, you can feel the rosy warm beauty of this house seeping out from beneath the creaking floorboards, from behind the peeling wallpaper, over the dust and through the stink of time. Well, *I* can. I look around and see a family home, a respite, an old friend, a warm blanket. I love it like an old pet.

As I walked through during this past visit, I couldn’t help imagining all the ways to resurface and redesign so that this house would look as magnificent as I think it is. The designer in me never shuts off — are you kidding?! I still think about it: the myriad ways to renovate, restore and rearrange. But it’s all with the intent to bring the house to its maximum functional and aesthetic potential, to balance history and modernity, and to allow the spirit we’ve imbued on it to shine from the inside out.

Of all the places I know in the world, this old house is my favorite.


Entry filed under: Head & Heart, Travel. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Endnote It’s a good thing, really

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Mental vacation: Denmark « Little Joys  |  February 17, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    […] I can’t get over how colorful it is, how flat the landscape; is the sky as big as it is at Grandma & Grandpa’s? I’d be willing to go and find out. And the man-made aesthetic sucks me in. While I’ve […]


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