For Mother’s Day, three years ago, I was given a porch swing. I love my porch swing. It’s natural wood, on big metal chains that hang from the ceiling, and I can cover it with pillows and sit on my front porch on a lovely fall day. Except…. My porch swing is in the basement… Waiting…
Because, you see, when we went to put up the porch swing, we couldn’t find the joists on the front porch, so we knew we’d have to take down the ceiling. And, if we took down the ceiling, we could get rid of the ugly latticework. And, if we got rid of the lattice work, then we should redo the beams. And, if we redid the beams, then we might as well resurface the porch. And, if we were going to redo the porch, then we should probably finish the living room first.
Such is the beauty and the beast of owning a 120 year old house. When we moved in, seven years ago, we knew we were in it for the long haul. We relished the opportunity to make every inch of the house our own. We knew what we were getting for our money. The house needed some love, but had some great bones and a wonderful history.
Part of me thought that we’d just throw a fresh coat of paint on the place and we’d be on our way. It hasn’t been that easy, but has been an adventure every day. It never occurred to me that, when you remove the five layers of wallpaper, that it was the wallpaper that was holding up the walls. That an old cast iron tub is lovely, but fifty years of a handheld shower head might have caused some rotting in the floor boards. That an old chain link fence stays sturdy for 50 years for a reason; cement, lots of cement.
But, after we replaced some walls and some floors and the fencing and the plumbing and the wiring; the front door, the basement door, the closet doors; the basement windows, the grass, and curtains; the trim, the crown molding, and lots and lots of paint, we’re left with a house that is intrinsically, irreversibly, home.
Every inch of this home is ours. We have a story for every nook and every cranny. We know every squeak in the stairs, every drip from the faucet. And we’ve found treasures beyond compare. Photos of the original owner, hand written letters, a ceramic pipe left in the wall by the builders. Pictures of my father and my son driving posts for the new fence. Pictures of our friends pulling down living room walls. And memories of all the long hours of Ed and I measuring (and remeasuring) drywall, and searching for the perfect orange (or blue, or green), and shopping for the perfect sconce (or tile or curtain fabric).
The fact is, I’m in love with this home. My children are in love with this home. Ed (I think, I hope) is in love with this home. It’s the single most powerful, passionate, scary relationship in our lives. And like any love affair, there’s moments that you just want out. And then there are moments that you are sure you couldn’t possibly live without it. At some point, you realize, you’ll grow old together.
And starting in September, I’m quite positive, I’ll start that long journey towards growing old with my loves while swinging on my beautiful, perfect porch swing. I promise. And, then… we tackle the kitchen…