Monday, March 3, 2008

Of Hearth & Heart

After a year of considering the terrifying possibility, a simple click of the mouse sets it in motion: we are selling our home. Within a day, there are six queries and it feels like there is no turning back.

It was only 18 months ago I had to let go of the home in which I was raised. More commonly these days people move regularly in our fast-paced mobile lives, but my roots were set deep. It was an immense change to help my sisters pack up our parents and bring in a dumpster, to see another family take possession of what for sixty years—more than my lifetime—had been only ours.

This house now we built with the idea that we would see our grandchildren play in the yard. The perennials were set with the care that we would enjoy the colors for decades. There is the wall that charts our children’s growth and the fireplace that warmed our hearts on so many winter nights. The only reason I could see to leave was when one of us would no longer be able to make it up the stairs to the bedroom.

But life changes, dreams we once held become smothered by the reality of life, until the ones which are most important push through like a crocus in the middle of an April snowstorm. One cannot always predict the color, you just have to stay open and alert, ready to be surprised.

Having grown up in one house and returned often over many years with my own children to see my parents grow old, home has always been spelled with a capital “H” for me. Nudged into a freefall, the urge to find my own nest has always been strong. I have carted my belongings in search of a sense of belonging that could be as strong as when I was the little boy. Although I have lived in some wonderful homes, that deep attachment has escaped me.

In each, I have set my books on the shelf, arranged my albums turned tapes turned CDs in order, hung my father’s paintings on the mantle with care, built shelves in the basement for my tools. In each, I have settled with a sigh of relief, explored the surroundings, bonded with the neighbors, welcomed my old friends for a glass of wine, and believed I was at Home at last.

In each, the turmoil of Life has been just as present at the births, holidays, and romantic celebrations. The pains have laid siege and brought sadness as often as the first words, graduations, and all the little pleasures in between have produced joy. The little boy in me still yearns while the man I am trudges forth to pay the mortgage.

In a city once so dominantly white and divided only by the labels “Vermonter” and “Flatlander”, it is humbling to witness the influx of refugees from Africa, Bosnia and Viet Nam. I coach a truckload of kids who in lives only one quarter the length of mine have known war, affluence shattered by poverty, years of tedium, fear and uncertainty in camps, and immersion in a completely alien climate and bewildering culture. Even so, these boys are some of the happiest I have ever met.

So once again, Life chooses for me an opening door. We take this step outwards with our heads held high, peering into the future for a glimpse of where this path will lead. Never more clearly rings the old phrase that “Home is where the heart is.”

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1 comment:

Maryanne Stahl said...

your home is lovely. best of luck on your journey. will you stay in Vermont?