I want to go home, but I tore it down and filled the hole with its rubble. I ripped out the blooming things that remained, and plopped them into temporary places, and abandoned them. Some of them, I crept back to rescue from rented yards, but without their rich black native soil, they died. The potted life is too harsh, too dependent on fallible humans.
The lawnmower, not mine, left behind, visits in dreams. So does the shed, now vanished, and the swingset I forgot to carry away, and the clothesline poles that I never could have moved alone. Irises blamingly bloom, and where did the bridal wreath go? Into the dumpster with the rest of the house? Vanished. The screen door should have been saved, and the bathtub. The backhoe cracked the cast-iron in two, even when I had begged for it to be carefully removed before the first smash. I still hear the screen door smack shut, feel the always-dirty brass handle in my fingers. The rusty screen smelled always like dust and coal oil, like Papa.
In these dreams, I see and touch and smell home. That yard was my solar system, the house the sun.
Should I have watched? Would seeing the house cave in make the dreams less enduring? One day it was here, the next it was gone. My grief embarrassed me, because the man who funded the demolition, my husband-to-be, was proud to see the falling-down house come down, and shocked at how many dumpsters it filled, and eventually became angry at me for not just selling it before he spent the money. The expense, not my money, kept me quiet. I stayed away for the beginning and the end of the knocking-down. He could not see me mourn boards and bricks.
I did scrape one load of soil from the basement hole, and in doing so, impaled my lost flute on the tine of the bucket. One scoop was enough. The last thing I looked for before setting the demo crew loose was that flute, and I found it after all.
No one was allowed in the house when we lived there. Gram was ashamed. The neighbors had nice things, probably, but I don’t really know. Their doors did not open to me; they had no kids my age, no reason to think I would want to come in. When I lived in the house as an adult, my dog would have done damage to any guest; the single time I had a visitor, the dog threw his body against the bedroom door, crazed, until he bloodied himself. It took only minutes, but I never let anyone else in after that. I loved my dog too much, and anyway, they house was…shameful. Residues of Gram’s not-good-enough clung to the crooked floors and the stained ceiling, perhaps, but I loved the familiar imperfections. She once said that she had hoped for better for me. I had always hoped to never have to leave.
All of it is gone now. The gardens and trees fell when the new owner built the “modern luxury villa” with that “spacious wooded yard”. Only desperation made me sell my spacious wooded yard. The money helped me to leave a bad situation, get a running car, pay a deposit on a rented house. My little rented cottage is a palace compared to the Old House, as we all still call it. The Old House really only had room for two, even though it held a family; one tenant would have been more comfortable, but nothing about the house was comfortable by modern standards. Central heat, insulation, windows that opened, those were all things that other houses had. My house was built of scraps from a Baptist church blown down by a tornado. I think the history of its parts gave it some kind of power; the house had already been through hell. The Baptists did not rebuild.
When, some day, another house comes into my life, I will know exactly where to go to find home, and I will stock it with the people I love, planted, growing, blooming. For now, home is wherever I can find the people I love. I feel “at home” in my big little cottage, especially when I can open the door to friends and family and neighbors-becoming-friends. The daughter would like a “big house”, but big houses require big incomes and big work to keep them tidy. The little house suits us fine for now, and for now, I will call it home, and be grateful that my girl has a big yard for now.
She informed me that she does want to live in a big house some day, but she wants to keep exactly the same yard.
That’s my girl.