Sunday, April 27, 2014

Just a house

I met him years ago when he ventured out into his back yard to see what my kids were screaming about during an evening showing. (Shane was pretending to be a bear, and the kids were having fun running around at dusk at the woods' perimeter.) I loved him immediately.

I sat next to him on the ground as he worked on his car a week later, a jar of homemade jam in hand as a thank you for letting us see his house that August night. (The house was all lit up. Music played. All appliances were running. It felt like home, and weren't our destinies twisting and crossing hard at that very moment.)

Joel has been back a few times, and whenever I see him in the yard, I walk out to greet him.

"I hope you don't get tired of me sticking my face in your business," I said to him the other day. He chuckled. We walked the woods together as he talked about future plans and pine trees.

"Do you ever think about this place?" I asked tentatively.

"All the time. Especially when I change my oil," he said. A smile. And my heart crumpled a little.

"Will (your wife and daughter) come by?" I asked.

"It's different for them," he said, and I understood. "But to me, it's just a house."

We walked around some more. I told him about plans to smooth the rough spots of a hill, about the fire pit we hope to build in the front space where he had wanted to build a gazebo.

"Aunt Stella is 102," he told me as we looked at her primrose in the garden.

Aunt Stella's primrose

"I want to plant some more," I said. "I want to fill this whole section with primrose."

"The tulips up at the house, I brought those back from Holland," he told me. Yellow and fiery red.

his tulips from Holland

Every plant has a story here; every Mother's Day gifted mum; every dogwood, and even every empty patch where a son learning how to drive a Dodge truck pulled a tree from the earth; every fire in the their family room wood stove and how it heated the house (our now school room and the heart of the home for me). It all matters, it all builds a story--theirs and ours.

He says it's just a house, and maybe so, but it's a home and a history. When he looks into my eyes, I know he knows that too.

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