Storied Houses

Storied Houses

I love houses.

I enjoy poking around on realtor sites just to see the inside of certain ones that I have noticed on the market.

One of the first questions I often ask new acquaintances is where is your house located? Followed by is it old or new? If it’s feasible, I do what Patrick used to call my drive by snooping. It often involved a stop at Dairy Queen, so no one minded indulging me.

It’s not that I am nosy exactly, more like interested. I always feel I gain a bit of insight into a person by checking out their house.

Please do not report me for stalking. It’s a simple pleasure, really.

I have lived in 4 different houses so far. And they each bring their own memories. When I think of an occasion or certain benchmark from our lives, I always begin with that’s when we lived on Rupert Street, or I was still home then…you can see that identification with place means a great deal to me.

Think of the stories we have already created at 7 Clarence:

  • we got Sally
  • we had to stay in isolation all that spring. Thank God for FibreOP!

or, how about

  • the first night we settled into our beds after a long day of moving, we discovered that Blackie (our octogenarian cat) was peeing on my freshly made bed!

**Is it my imagination or do a lot of our memories center around feline bathroom exploits?**

And I can hardly wait for this one:

  • remember when Melissa had the house painted pink after COVID-19, to satisfy her Claude Monet fetish?

In an effort to find a suitable quote about home, it became just that, an effort. I guess that is because home has come to mean so many different things to me. But mainly it has to do with the power of stories. More specifically a before and after kind of story -prologue and epilogue.

Twenty years of my fifty-two were spent in a log house on the Athol hill surrounded by beauty and love. They were incredible years of romance, loss, anger and frustration, worry, laughter and stability. We began as a family of two in that house, and became a family of three, and then sadly returned to two.

We were so incredibly proud of it ( too proud maybe) mainly because it was so unique to who we were as a unit.We live in the grey log house, at the top of the hill, just after the noisy bridge. Across from the church. We attached the schoolhouse to it.

I cannot see that I will ever love a place as much as that property.

My love for home and houses is rooted in family. Complete calm pervades my thoughts when I think of my mother’s kitchen: the counter and sink installed to her exact height, the contrasting color of cupboards and wallpaper, the rocking chair in front of the basement door. Other spaces and sounds that bring floods of happiness include the games’ closet with the unpredictable door knob, her rattling china cabinet (which I now have, and yes, it still rattles), and the opening creak of the drop down lid of her desk (yep, still creaks).

Likewise, a visit to my aunt Joan’s always brought me great comfort. The smell of what I believe was sunlight soap, still urges me to pick up a bar whenever I can. Her space was always cool, and full of beautiful things to look at. It was the source of Beatrice’s refuge the day her father died, even though Aunt Joan was no longer there. It was still familiar and safe.

Another place of solace for me was my church. Growing up we attended the Southampton United Church. Patrick and I were married there, Bea was christened there, and we spent countless hours there with our church family, fundraising, making soup, and drinking tea while eating great cakes. But, you know, one of the most sacred moments I had in that holy space was on a Friday afternoon when I slipped in to pick something up for Sunday School. The sanctuary was empty and the sun fell on the red cushioned pews, and I just sat there truly feeling the presence of God. I know we say that a church is more than a building, and of course I realize this, but that particular day that building was just plain LOVE to me. My home.

However, I do not think you can live in the past forever and stay incredibly healthy. Charlie Pride sang, “it’s nice to think about, maybe even visit…but I wonder could I live there anymore.”

We have this adorable house now, to paint pink apparently!

And we have Frida, Elvis (even in the bathroom), and Jesus, and Bea and me in this house. It’s a new chapter – no – book, of how we combined all of our storied houses in order to move forward with this pain and loss. And we will record this movement, through words and art and Facebook posts. We will live through and celebrate these doings, so that when we do become that family of three again we can share this time of management with him, the man we loved and lost. Nothing is impossible with God.

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4 Responses

  1. Me too, we share the same interest in driving around( preferably at night, better view 😉 not creepy , right ?) lol . Love to see wall colours , curtains and how pictures are arranged on walls . I think you can tell a lot about a family by the way their house looks. I think a pink exterior screams happiness 😊 This will be a wonderful addition to your stories of your homes. Another wonderful blog….

  2. Hi Melissa,
    A friend of mine shared your blog with me a few days ago and thanks to social distancing and staying home, I have read almost everyone. I was a student of yours for a very short time before I moved to a different school but your teaching left a lasting impression on me. I have since became a teacher myself and am in my first year at a forest school in Saint John, NB. Thank you for the positive influence you have had on my life. You taught more than a provincial curriculum and made me grapple with topics such as love and humanity.
    I also share a love for spaces and the importance they have in our hearts. All the best in your new one,

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