This house...it's taken care of me for so long, it's one of my best friends. Before I go up to my bedroom at night, I tell the downstairs goodbye. I always leave on one little lamp, and it softly lights up the living room. For a minute I stand there and just look around the room-the worn recliners, "Ben's" couch, the old Victrola against the wall, and the battered wood stove over in the corner.
Upstairs is different-light and open, with a space at the top of the stairs for Laurel and Will and their friends. An old television sits across from the big couch, and video games, comics and books are scattered around the room. We really don't spend much time up here, and neither do our dog and cat friends, except for Poto, who doesn't count because she doesn't know she's a cat. And then there's Wooly, who off and on for months stood at the foot of the stairs gazing forlornly up to the top, her ears pricking slightly at the sound of Laurel and Will's voices, but never once attempting even the first step. Finally one afternoon we all coaxed her up, just a couple of steps at a time, and much petting and half-carrying Wooly followed. She has since gone back to long, mournful looks from the safety of the downstairs.
Our bedroom is upstairs, a simple square room with windows in three walls and a door in the other. I like the fairness of that; no wall needs to feel left out-this for those of us who simply must endow inanimate objects with human feelings. A small closet is tucked in the corner, and Poto absolutely must try each night to gain access to it. This despite the fact that it actually closes now, after all these years, thanks to Paul's shoe box full of ancient doorknobs and latches, carefully saved, I think, just for these doors. Amazing. sometimes open and shut it just to hear the satisfying click of the latch.
This room is full, with dressers and a little cedar chest along the walls, beside and beneath the windows. And our bed, coming out from one wall, takes up space in the middle. It's covered with a bright and colorful patchwork quilt and pillows, and our red and black blanket is folded neatly at the foot. When I run upstairs during the day I always want to lie down on the bed for a minute, this "home within a home," where we pass our nighttime lives of sleep and dreams, love and passion, talk and laughter.
The walls are just plain white, and they provide a perfect background for our pictures. They are an odd assortment, but each one is special to us, whether it be my father's sketches, Paul's newly framed watercolor of yellow flowers, or our Monet print, fuzzy and pastel and comforting.
Each window offers a different view of the world. The east one to the sun in the morning, rising mysteriously from slightly different locations throughout the year. I enjoy that mystery, and don't know, don't want to know, why it changes. I just like looking for it. It has woken me too early some mornings, I think, but I do love that view, my first one of the day.
A most refreshing breeze blows over us from the south window, beginning in spring and continuing all through summer into the fall. There's not much to see here except the porch roof, but just the other day I spotted two purple and black birds fluttering and crowding up under the roof, looking for a good nesting spot.
The north window must have been put there for long, thoughtful gazes at the garden, and beyond to the cemetery and the creek in the distance. I can lie in my bed and watch the morning sunlight slip slowly over the sleepy garden, and feel a bit dizzy knowing that I myself am slowly rolling backwards towards the sun, in my bed, my room, my house.
The door on the west opening to the world beyond our room brings the sounds of activity from all over the house. In the late afternoon, sunlight streams across the hall from the sleeping porch into our doorway and lights up our room, reflecting off mirrors and doorways and filling the space.
A tree stands in our front yard by the gate, with a sturdy round trunk leading up to graceful branches. In years past, it has been one of Laurel's favorite spots, whether in a game of hide and seek ("Did you know where I was, Mommy?") or just a spot to watch the world go by for awhile without being all the way in it.
I think of my house and my room in this same way-a safe and protected spot in the world; a space from which I venture forth each day, but one that I hold close in my mind's eye, until I come over the crest of that hill, and let my soul go ahead of me, unable to wait any longer as the car makes its way home.
From Well, Well, Well (transcribed by Laurie Ward)