We arrived home yesterday after being away for five months.
The house was intact. But different somehow.
An inanimate object. Empty of life.
After a serious winter, the surroundings looked a little rag tag. Suffering from what an errant Jack Frost had wrought.
Stubby brown sticks emerging where leafy bushes had been. Tree limbs without trees. Wheelbarrows resting on the side of the shed. Waiting to be made useful again.
The house is a late 1800’s New England farmhouse. Of another time.
A house that had known separation before.
The floors had been refinished over the winter. Furniture pushed back against the walls waiting to be recalled into position.
The big grey chair that sits by the fireplace was gone now. The puppy having eaten the back of it. As a puppy would do. It was away now being stitched back in time.
The large kitchen rug, mistaken for the backyard loo, was gone too. Sent months ago to the local, community dustbin.
The house looked empty.
And felt empty.
Houses suffer from neglect.
You don’t approach them after being away, and still smell apple pie and polished leather shoes and fresh cut grass. You don’t hear Beethoven wafting through the air as you make your way down the driveway. Experience the careening, crashing sounds of the dogs wildly chasing a chipmunk. Or hear, just any voice at all, calling you from the raucous badminton game on the back lawn.
A house forgotten doesn’t cast the same sunset glint in its windows.
You have to bring back all that life.
And the longer you’re away the more difficult it is.
Like a best friend you haven’t seen. The friendship’s still there… but it needs attention. Fluffing up.
For a split second you wonder. Whose house is this? Am I simply a voyeur wandering this idle real estate? Waiting for it to call out, like the Sirens, to lure me back in?
But of course it doesn’t.
It just sits there.
You have to be the aggressor. Embrace it. Reclaim it. Put your cheek on the floor and let it know you’re there.
Like the old friend you greet with a long lost bear hug. Not letting go until they know you’re still there. Always there.
You’re finally home.