see all cities »

UsedBlog

UsedBlog Homecoming

Homecoming

We moved this week. Hold me.

The chaos. The dust bunnies. The boxes. The sheer volume of miscellaneous garbage nobody recognizes. The “holy sweet meatballs why do I have no underwear??” The BOXES. Mercy.

I have come to the realization, my friends, that moving – no matter how many times one has done it – is not a whole lot like riding a bike.

Rather, it’s like labour. It’s a world unto itself, a time bracketed off. It’s extraordinarily painful, but the endorphins of the result block your memory of the exact details until the next time you find yourself in the throes. And by then, it’s too late to back out.

While my recall is still plenty gory, let me state clearly that I plan on never ever moving again. In this life. You can pry this house from my cold, dead hands. But I’d rather you just unpacked it for me.
***

In the midst of the madness of sorting and packing and carting and trying to reorganize, though, there is incredible sweetness.

This house we bought, this lovely Arts & Crafts bungalow that I plan to die in, many decades from now, was my grandmother’s newlywed home. She was born across the street, and lived there again all through my childhood. But for a period in the late ’30s through the ’40s, she and husband – who died before I was born – lived here. Where I sit right now, roasting my tootsies at the fireplace.

I am the only child of an only child. When my grandmother died, well into her nineties, I was the inheritor of many of her treasures, including and especially her wedding presents. I wear her rings on my left hand. I have her black-paper wedding album.

And this week, I got to bring her things – the fancy and the mundane – back home.

Her Art Deco dishes, cream and silver:

Her glass citrus juicer, which can slaughter even a grapefruit:

A handy jar – alas now empty – for dealing with colic. The horse kind, not the baby kind. Apparently also good for flesh wounds, and spavins, whatever those are. Too bad it’s empty. All this moving is probably bad for spavins.

Her pansy bowl – my grandmother loved pansies. I’ve never seen another of these: does anyone know if they were common at one time? You fill it with water and place a small purple flower in each hole: beautiful.

Her flour jar, which I plan to finally fill with flour and start using myself.

But THIS is the crowning glory. She was given this as a wedding present by the parents of the man who built this house. It had apparently been given to THEM as a wedding present, years before. Regifting? Not new, people. But seldom this daringly fabulous.

Here it is, atop an old speaker cabinet her husband made by hand. In what was once their living room.

I love these old things. I love their elegant lines and their quirkiness and the solidity of their materials.

But most? I love that they are stories, tangible family history. That when I hold them in my hands, or catch sight of them in my kitchen, I hear – for a second – the sound of my grandmother’s voice, speaking my name.

And here, in this house that was once hers, I love that the ending to these things’ stories is that they’ve come home.

Well, perhaps not the ENDing. But I swear, once I get this house unpacked, I’m not going anywhere for YEARS.

Twitter: @bonstewart Life blog: http://cribchronicles.com Theory blog: http://theory.cribchronicles.com

5 Responses to “Homecoming”

Jen

Your roots are so strong! I wish you long years of happiness in your new old home. Much love.

Reply

Amanda

I revere these things we get to keep, all laced up in nearly palpable memories of moments. I have a cabinet filled with books and small pieces from my grandparents’ home. I don’t often open it because perhaps the most dear thing is that it has their smell. The particular scent of old books, leather and his whiskers, my grandpa smelled of the colleges in which he taught and the pews near where he preached. Poking my head in that cabinet is as close to burying my head in his chest as I’ll ever be again.
Thanks for taking me back again.

Reply

V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

I get the magazine Dwell from time to time. It is devoted to modern architecture and interiors. I stare at those stripped down rooms and bare-counter kitchens and wonder where the history is hidden. Is it behind the door of a sleek laminate cabinet? In plastic boxes in the basement? I have remnants of so many lives under my roof: my parents’ and my husbands’ parents too, our grandparents, and evidence of the the three decades he and I have shared.

I’m not a collector. I don’t worship antiques and yet I treasure these objects that witnessed lives I never knew. The stories speak to me and remind me of what passes and what remains.

Reply

magpie

i’d like to come visit. 🙂

Reply

Bon

Thanks, all. And Magpie, I’d love to have you. Say the word.

Ah, the scent, Amanda. Actually, in the basement we currently have my grandfather’s old leather lazyboy (other side of the family); his throne of my childhood, in late years relegated to his basement. When he died last year, I claimed it, but it’s been in our shed since: this is its first trip into a house other than his in more than forty years. And everytime I go near it, in the basement, I am almost overcome with the smell of forty years of cigars. Which for me, smells like HIM. But I am thinking perhaps may be not so good for the kids’ play area.

Veronica, I love the look of a lot of what I’ve glanced at in Dwell, but you’re right: there is little room in sleek perfection for history and the sentiment that goes with it. I’ve spent years torn between my collection of tchotchkes and my desire to live in a clean white zen painting. Somehow, this whole Arts & Crafts aesthetic seems to be bringing it all together. Mind you, I still have about thirty boxes to unpack. 🙂

Reply

Leave a Reply