Other Wind
29 / July29 / July29 / July

My Parents’ House

I remember what it felt like to live in my parents’ house. I did not notice or mark the feeling at the time. I just lived it. I was wrapped up inside of someone else, safe. Nothing was of my design. It was all home to me and foreign at the same time. I was on a vacation.

Lying in my bed, sitting on the couch, or at the table, I saw the house around me, full of objects that really belonged to someone else. These objects were parts of a shared history, my history, and I accepted them without thought or challenge. I explored the old green and gold milk can in the foyer at the bottom of the stairs. It held important papers—my old report cards and crayon drawings. I spent hours at the kitchen table, a table that I watched my parents decide to buy. I probably would not choose it for my house now that I buy my own furniture, but I ate breakfast, did homework, and talked on the phone through many years at that table.

The rolling chairs that went with the table were perfect during high school because I could roll around the kitchen, cord willing, with the phone in my hand. I rolled around each night, talking about boys and movies, repeating inside jokes with friends, blushing as my boyfriend tried to coax me into saying the word from The Tropic of Capricorn that I was afraid to repeat. I had discovered The Tropic of Capricorn among my dad’s old college books on the basement bookshelf. I studied that bookshelf often, falling in love with the musty smell. I would go to college soon.

After I got tired of rolling around, I sat on the top step outside the kitchen, looking down the stairs into the dark outside the front door. My parents could probably hear every word from down in the basement where they watched TV, but they did not intrude. I was in their house, but my life was focused inward. I didn’t have to worry about the house, the phone, the food. I just had to become.

My parents’ bedroom was the most foreign room in the house, the room in which I felt most like a visitor. But as a small child, I was welcome there in the mornings, in the warm spot next to my mother. In the early light, I returned to sleep next to her even though the sun was up. I loved those stolen moments.

Memories of my own homes will not be the same. My houses will shelter me, but memories of them will have strings attached, strings of the decision to choose the cream comforter over the blue one, the argument over which couch to put where, the money we paid for the hardwood floors. They will be filled with my choices, and may be beautiful, serene, warm, but they will never seem as purely safe in memory as my childhood homes do. I will never have been a child in them, wrapped up in the arms—the curtains, the bedspreads—of my parents.

I have just read this one. Do not know how I missed it before. Sure happy you have such good feelings about us and your youth. We think your pretty special also.

Posted by: Mom on March 31, 2003 08:03 AM

I had forgot about your site. Wendy you have a very special mother she is very dear to me too. You also have a talent for writing.

Aunt Faye

Posted by: Aunt Faye on April 18, 2003 10:28 PM