Four Walls and Soul

 I love houses. I love homes. 

Architecture geek that I am, driving around Anacortes and trying to figure out where neighborhoods begin and end based on the architecture is what I call a good time. Riding with me means pulling on off the side streets to take a historical tour.  And, like millions of others,  I really enjoy Downton Abby – but I’m not watching it for the plot (recent developments, GRR!) and the good looking men…. ok, a little for the men…but very little.  It’s the house… that beautiful house –  Highclere Castle, which was designed by Sir Charles Barry, who also designed the Houses of Parliament. (See? Geek.)

This has been going on for a while. House loving started in England when our family was stationed there. My mom and I would be out on an errand and through my thick glasses, I’d watch the rows of cottages, detached semis, and attached semis go by.  I loved the crisp, bright, white trim against the red brick and the brightly colored doors.  Every so often we’d pass a stately looking home, or particularly lovely looking cottage, and I’d say “We could do with a house like that, mummy!”

My morning walk to Tower Hill Primary School was past row houses with tiny, but tidy gardens. Each house exactly the same structure, each home completely unique. 

(Oh no. Have I become a broker to be an architectural voyeur? Hadn’t thought of that. Yikes.)

No, It’s not entirely the case. Maybe it’s because I never had one “forever” home and still long for the place I know every creak, every worn groove in the wood.

I remember house hunting in Ipswich, Massachusetts – an interesting experience. One house we looked at was huge, gorgeous, with all the character of an authentic Colonial – since it was constructed during the actual Colonial era – annnnd it had a stream in the basement. It’d been like that for a couple hundred years.  But there was this other big Colonial home that had been divided into condos. This place was old, as in pre Paul Revere’s Ride old. There were a lot of interesting things about the place, but it was the back stairs of the place that I remember most.

They were the original stairs. In every step was a worn area, the slightest concave dent in the stair where thousands of steps were taken over the last two hundred plus years. I wondered who used them? Families, servants, slaves – carrying bread, babies, firewood. I put my hand in one and felt the smoothness, like polished driftwood.  I travelled the stairs a couple times in hope I might absorb the stories.

The forever home. Circumstances have been such that my son hasn’t had one either, and that breaks my heart a little.  I wanted so much for him to have the tree that grew along with him and his name over lines in the door frame marking his growth. . .soft dents in the stairs.

At the very least I hope he’ll have a place to bring his kids. For now, each place we’ve lived we have made ours, and it feels like us.

We have the four walls and a roof, and that’s a house.  It’s four walls and soul that make it our home. 

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About Elizabeth Bishop

Not quite wise enough yet to not yell under the avalanche
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3 Responses to Four Walls and Soul

  1. julie says:

    Home is where the heart is….the building is irrelevant. Emperor Fabulous knows this deep down in the core of his being.

  2. youknowwho says:

    Home is where your friend a thousand miles away can see some piggie shoes and know that she’s got a little part in that house. And feel a little warmer.

  3. Love Love Love that you are part of it.

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