Her house at 7 years old
She was lying with her friend on a brand new hardwood floor covered with newspapers. They were watching TV in an empty room.
The new house felt foreign.
She spent most of her time, even sleeping, at Grandma’s, next door, the place they had just moved from.
Time was needed for the familiar smells to move in. Favorite spots were yet to be found.
Helmut, the cat, was also having a hard time. He stayed folded in the closet for weeks, waiting for the new space to be tamed.
It was so important to her parents, this new-construction house. She didn’t share the enthusiasm. They had a home!
The new structure was slowly growing, changing the landscape. It blocked the view. Although, it had some perks like a tall foundation for walking along, falling off, scraping knees in and being yelled at.
Dad was so happy. It must have meant a lot to build a house from scratch. For her, it was just a bunch of unfamiliar corners and walls.
Her house at 14 years old
One day she noticed that the colors had faded.
Her room faced north. It was colder and darker than the rest of the house. It had a view of her grandparents’ cottage — geraniums in their windowsill, two bowed gray heads, a loud radio.
She’d stall in the mornings, snoozing, then dress under her favorite soft duvet cover, the one with the diamond shape cut in the middle. There was no pillow. She had the idea that giving it up meant having a straighter back.
A collection of miniature vases got fresh mini-flowers every Saturday.
Sometimes, on a brisk fall day after school, friends had to be let in through the basement window, knocking down detergents and paint cans because she had lost the key.
The full moon on a sleepless night lighted her book.
The homemade heavy ironing board with a flowery fabric, lightly scorched, always ready for action, stood in the corner by the window.
A flotilla of shoes flooded the hallway and spilled outside. Some were missing a partner, some had no shoelaces. The shoes were the people who had worn them, her people, busy people — dried mud, grass clippings, chicken droppings, cement, manure.
The world got bigger. The house became smaller.