Be it ever so humble, home is going to really cost you.
I never really felt at home at my parent’s house. All I wanted was to be old enough to run. My first marriage was the classic “jailbreak.” He was still living in his parents’ attic. I had a rented room near the college. We both needed to get out of where we were and into something with “legs.”
The was our first house. It cost us $20,300 which is less than the car we drive. We took out an $18,000 mortgage. We lived there for 8 years, but it needed a lot of work. For one thing, its heating system was a converted coal furnace … and a second bathroom had become an issue. We could have remodeled rather than moving, but houses were still inexpensive, so we moved.
Exactly one mile away.
I loved that house. I used to walk around it during the night and just touch things. It talked to me. Unfortunately, that marriage was on its way out. Five-years later, I was on my way to Jerusalem, Israel.
That marriage was troubled before we got married. Had I had any sense at all, I never would have gotten into it … but I was lonely, far from home. I didn’t speak or read the language.
The marriage had endless problems, but I adored Jerusalem and that old Arab-built house in which we finally settled had magic. It was home … until I left. The troubled marriage only got worse and after 9 years, I went home.
I had no place to stay, so I stayed in the guest room of the first husband.
Garry thought we should get married and not long after that, we did. We found a great home in Roxbury. A triplex with enough closets to last a lifetime … and a wonderful kitchen. It was not finished when we bought it, so we had it designed for us. It was a great townhouse. We wanted a yard for the dogs … but if the Big Dig hadn’t driven us away, we might still be there. Really, probably not. We wanted some land. We wanted to live in the country.
Now, and for the past 18 years, this has been our home. It is also undoubtedly our last home.
What made each place a real home and not just a place to sleep?
Fundamentally, it’s where our dogs, cats, books, and art lives. I have lived in homes with many different people — including alone. The art and the dogs and cats always came too. They are a lot of what makes me feel I’m me.
Art, especially, is important. I don’t know how anyone can live in a house with blank walls and empty tables. The “glass and steel” trends of recent years look pretty in a photograph, but how awful to live in a place that’s all sharp edges.
Every place I’ve lived has had art and books everywhere. Dogs and cats and occasionally other critters, too. Living with Garry has been a pleasure. After a lifetime of living with — or being married to — people I often didn’t really like, it’s great to live with someone I love.
Home is the stage from which we emerge into the larger world. We keep our costumes here. We keep our computers here. It’s the number we give to people who might want to call us — and one of the reasons I much prefer having a “home” telephone number.
This is where I live. Call me. If I don’t answer, leave a message and I’ll get back to you. This is where we live. This is home.