There’s a reason they tell you to sell your house in the spring.
The grass has come in but not the weeds, the gardens are bursting with long-established perennials that haven’t drooped in the August heat and chances are good your front hallway is not still littered with winter boots.
I’d always imagined my place looked better in winter, with a couple of feet of snow making my yard look more like one of those treacly framed prints. It’s harder to tell I have a shed that my son Ari says should be burned to the ground.
My decision not to sell brought forth a tumble of notes from readers and some revealing conversations with friends and family. Colour nobody surprised, basically.
“I called it a month ago,” smiled Christopher, 25. “I told Pam you’d never go.”
“A month ago I was totally going to go,” I reminded him.
“Nope. When I saw how good it looked, I knew you’d never leave. You’re gonna die here.”
My son believes in extremes.
Pammy was kinder.
“We will house-sit any time,” she told me.
“No, we won’t,” said Christopher. “I will house-sit any time,” she amended.
It’s true that fresh paint and clean windows changed my perspective, and handed me back some sense of calm. The overwhelming waves of I-don’t-know-where-to-start are gone, and in their place a renewed feeling of home and, funnily enough, family. I mean, they’ve all moved out now. That should be the last thing I should be feeling.
This house has always been full. Growing up, my parents let all our friends hang out here. Even as we grew up and out, we were still back here most Sundays for dinner, and I was here nearly every day when the boys were small.
It was about taking care of my parents when they were sick, but it was also about making sure Christopher and Ari got every second they could with them. The boys’ memories of my parents are fleeting at best, but my parents, through this house, made sure their grandsons had the best gift in the world: home.
They did it when I couldn’t afford to; they did it when I didn’t know how to. It’s because of what they did that I could become a writer. They didn’t live long enough to see me published, but they gave me this. The security to chase an insane dream and still keep my kids safe.
It’s been a home to many others, too. I wasn’t sure how to tell a new buyer that they would be getting a lot of people knocking on their door for a few years, as the kids’ friends come back through town. We’ve always been here; some of them have even lived here for various stints.
It’s been home to more than my parents, my sisters, my friends, or my kids. It’s been a base for many, an anchor when everything else has come and gone, over half a century of Sommerfeld.
We’ve had more family dinners since everyone moved out than we did when they all lived here, I swear. Ari built a new deck last fall, with a lot of help from his stepdad. We finished off the railings a few weeks ago in time for new buyers, except now we’re using it. The rotted corner that had become a small trampoline is gone, and the whole thing is a little bigger. The awning has been cleaned, the lanterns are new, the barbecue has been moved and the furniture has been washed.
The kids were back again on the weekend, the dogs blasting around the yard.
Candles flickered gently.
“Hey, we might stay over next weekend,” said Ari.
“You can’t,” I told him. “I have friends from out of town coming. You could always stay at your brother’s.”
So maybe not totally still home.