In The Middle of our Street

It’s 10:00 at night. My kids are bathing the beagle because she smells like dead fish from an afternoon of rolling in worms, poop, and decaying leaves. My partner is screaming at the TV because some guy from the Mets pitched a no-hitter, the first in their history as a ball team. She finds this a deliriously monumental occasion and I find only a feeble, that’s nice to respond with. There are fruit flies circling this computer (which happens to be an Apple but I was resisting the strangeness of that), and our ceiling fans are squealing full tilt trying to choke a little cool air out of the windows and into the house. This is causing magnificent tumbleweeds of dog hair to dance across the floor.

Behind me sits a pile of papers fraught with bills, store advertisements, promises of lower insurance premiums, old notices from the kids’ schools, and clippings my father sends me about local writers, most of whom are in their twenties. My fridge is wrapped in a chain of bungee cords because the seal is unreliable and the door pops open making the milk sweat. There is a watermelon in the middle of the dining room table along with plastic silverware from last week’s Memorial Day cookout, my partner’s bright orange Timbuktu briefcase, 3 Spode tea bag holders shaped like little teacups that my mother loved, a hardcover copy of Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, and a pink ladybug hat belonging to a friend’s 3 year-old.

This is my home. It’s where all the madness and beauty resides. It’s where I cook, sing, create, retreat, cry, imagine, forget, scheme, shovel out, hide, fume, and write. It’s where shame and joy and pain come to rest. It’s where the constellation of my family changes with the days. We move around and among each other through routine and crisis, in and out of focus. We are stars in the night sky, hardly noticed most days, breathlessly beautiful at times, unexplainable, far-reaching, the same and yet different.

There are days I hate my house. I want to move out, leave everything behind. I want floors that are free of dog hair and sinks that don’t drip and every shelf organized and a clear path to the washer and dryer. But other days I love my house. I love it fiercely and beyond reason. I feel like the luckiest person alive to have this house, this yard, this neighborhood. I feel its embrace and its safety. And I am grateful.

There are many houses I admire. There are houses I drive by and covet. There are homes, like my father’s, that were once mine in some way and still carry the smell of memory. But this house is mine. Flawed, impossible to keep up with, bursting with potential, overwhelming, aging, but mine.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “In The Middle of our Street

  1. ThreeKingsBooks

    I can’t write unless things are orderly around me. Just a thought.

  2. I’ve had the same love-hate relationship with this house. In some ways, its cheapness and clutter are a confinement I can hardly bear. On those days, I leap out the door and into my car and start driving to the horizon, just to get away. But when I return, the kitchen smells like five-spice and yesterday’s chickpea stew, and there are plenty of warm bodies around, ready to accept a hug–and what is life if not a jumble of disparate sensations?

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