My mother used to say that a house was not a home until you put at least one framed picture on the wall.
This romantic idea of hers I have kept all these years but of late I have been thinking about the reverse of it. What happens when you start removing pictures from walls (and if you are frugal as I am you take out the hanging nails to be re-used)? Does the home suddenly become a house or does it simply embark on a slow death?
I am not sure but I do note my Rosemary’s grim expression as she enters this room or that one and sees the bare walls.
Today the carpet cleaning man (a pleasant Iranian) delivered five cleaned rugs to the new house. They had been removed from our present house/home where we have lived for 30 years. The bare floors in the living room and the dining room were grim reminders of days to come.
But on the positive side I placed those five carpets on the floors of the new house which already has some pictures up. Is this new house becoming a home?
In situations like these in which increments are part of the process I always think of the co-founders of the calculus, Sir Isaac Newton and Gotffried Leibniz. I believe that in some way just the re-using of my hanging nails will bring bits of the old home into the new. We do know that if you pour a bottle of Scotch in the Pacific Ocean, one can calculate with the study of ocean currents and with Newton’s and Leibniz’s help the time it will take for infinitesimal quantities of the liquor to show up on the Pacific.
I also think of the infinitesimal when I consider the slow death of a home. In my neighbourhood which I call Slow Dresden, the noise of houses being torn down by excavators, of late, has been reduced simply because there are few old houses standing. The noise is a cacophony of pain to my senses and I often wonder if the ghosts and spirits that inhabit all homes at that point will leave for better haunts.
The days when my Rosemary would confront developers who were about to cut down trees have ended. There are few trees to cut down but our present home will give these people ample opportunity to sever them once they get the permits for their four or five car garages.
I do know that on that final day (the day after the moving vans?) I will drive my Malibu away and I will never return. I will not hear the noise when our home, by then a house will cease to be either. I will imagine it, perhaps. But by then I will be taking my mother’s advice and I will be hanging pictures in what will be our new home. In my heart I know it will be my last.
Death comes to Athlone
Sullenly & Silently Over The Fragments Of The House
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.