02 January 2012

The Lonely Soul of an Empty House

It is bad for a house to sit empty for more than a short while. Devoid of the din and movement of human life, it begins to decay. Grime settles onto the floor- they don't look too bad at first, but after 5 or 6 runs with the mop the water in the bucket is still turning dark gray. It takes on a smell that can only be called lonely, a smell like empty rooms and closed windows. I think houses can feel lonely. They want to be used; after all, that is their purpose.

We are moving into a lonely house. The kids can feel this, and it feels uncomfortable. It's not Home, it's cold and everything echoes. The wallpaper and the paint are not ours; they were chosen by strangers. It will take time to love these new rooms and to groom them into a place in which we feel an emotional embrace when we walk in the front door. It will take time.

The house wants to be loved. Generations of families have climbed the stairs and kissed in the bedrooms and cried in the kitchen. Now it is our turn.

The house we are leaving will not sit empty. It has a new family waiting to come in and love it. Nineteen years ago when we were just children of 19 ourselves and knew nothing about loving a house, we moved there and the house had been sitting empty. Its occupant had fallen asleep smoking on her couch and started a smoldering fire. It was her misfortune that brought us to our first home. The house was repaired and put on the market for a pittance by the elderly sibling who all the trouble was bequeathed to. That house was lonely too- it's sole occupant of 30 years had left it- but it was August and there was enough sun streaming in the windows to chase the sadness into the corners. The floors were still just as grimy and we had almost no furniture to fill the many rooms. Over the years we filled it with children and many other things, and it came to life.

This new house is going to come back to life through the touch of our hands and the sound of our laughter.It will take some time but one of these days we will walk through its rooms and realize, quite suddenly, that it feels like Home.


Jill said...

this post made me sigh. A happy, relaxed kinda sigh. I am so happy for you all as you work on making this new house your home :-)

Bunny said...

It's so exciting to have anew home. I hope it is the birthplace of many happy memories.