Working on Barbara’s house – which, I know, is my house – has been making me think a lot lately about the soul of a house. I’ve lived in a lot of places. Some of them I liked, some of them were just places to stay, a couple of them I genuinely loved.
Have you ever been into a house and it just…. feels like the people who live there? Like, even if one or more of those people aren’t in the house with you at the moment, the house still feels like them? Barbara’s house is not like that. Maybe it’s just me? Barbara didn’t invite people over a lot, so I feel as if I’ve spent more time there since she died than I did the fifteen or so years she lived there. But when I walk into it, I don’t feel… her. Maybe that has to do with Doris and June having cleaned out so much of Barbara’s things already? But even when she was just in the hospital, or in the care center, if I stopped by for anything, the house just felt more like a waypoint than a home.
When Tim died… well, before Tim died, I was worried about what I might have to do. Worried about where I might live. While he was sick but we thought he might get better, I worried that I might have to sell this place and move into town to be closer to him if he needed to live in an extended care facility for a long time. Or if he was to live at home but we needed to be a closer than twenty-minute drive to get us an ambulance. Or if he died and I couldn’t afford to stay here. I didn’t know what was going to happen, how it was going to play out, and I just hoped that I would have a year to make a decision. That’s what “they” say – wait a year after a life-changing traumatic event like this before making a big decision like staying or going.
Thanks to the generosity of friends, family, and even strangers, right after Tim died I was given the gift of time and space – people gave me money, and it was enough money that I could live here for a year without having to make a decision. I can never, ever express how grateful I am for that.
And now, a little over a year later and I’m getting ready to sell the house that Barbara left to me when she died just a few months after Tim. A house that it never even occurred to me to keep, to move into. I mean, it did, otherwise I wouldn’t have the idea for this post, haha. But if, when given the opportunity to move, if I wanted to, into a house that’s in good shape and not in a bad part of town… I’d rather sell it, and stay here, please and thank you. I don’t walk into it and think “I could live here” or imagine myself putting my furniture in whatever room, daydream about dinner parties or coffee on the back porch in the morning. It’s a perfectly serviceable house, there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not “me.”
This place, with it’s weirdness of a bigger art studio than house, wild animals (and somewhat tame animals who keep showing up), a giant random pit to the north, and not being able to see the neighbors except during winter when the leaves fall … this place is “me.” This place, even without Tim, is home.