Thursday, May 5, 2011

HOUSE FOR SALE: 3 Ingham Road

My childhood home is for sale.

Friends and family keep sending me links to the realtor’s website, urging me to consider moving back home. It’s a strange feeling viewing a digital slideshow of the rooms where your life unfolded. Even stranger to know that, since then, another family has been raised within those same walls. Each photo appears as a snapshot of a long lost friend wearing unfamiliar furniture like updated clothes. I keep puzzling at the house’s layout, trying to determine how it fits into my memory; how I would incorporate the space into my adult life.

Despite all the years, 3 Ingham Road remains my house – a modest four bedroom Cape with sloped ceilings on the second floor. I recognize the wall in my bedroom where magazine collages once hung, the closet with its own light that my brother deemed his “office,” and the cavernous bathroom where I showered each morning. Only now do I see how blessed we were with sunlight in such a small home.

Remarkably, my mother’s kitchen remains intact after 30 years. At great cost, she had renovated it in the early 1980s, tricking it out with all of the latest accoutrements like Formica cabinets and a hand-painted tile backsplash. Hidden within that kitchen is a retractable platform to store a heavy Kitchen Aid, and a hutch to conceal the beloved Cuisine Art -- details of my mother as intimate as the imprint of her thumb.

As I savor these traces of Mom’s life, I simultaneously wield a mental wrecking ball. In my mind’s eye, I have torn out the cabinets, crushed the Mexican tiles, and ripped up wide wooden floor boards to install my own sleek, granite imprint.

Horror? Blasphemy? Whatever. I can hear The Jeanne’s voice in my head: "No need to get nostalgic. It's just stuff!" She would then agree that the Formica was totally outdated and the mauve colored bathroom an "eighties delusion." In fact, when the second owners added a new addition, Mom would praise them prodigiously at every drive-by viewing, exclaiming: “Exactly what I would have done."

Embedded in her compliment was an unspoken strand of wisdom: My house served me well, helped me raise my children in a safe and comfortable home. May it provide the same basic pleasures to you.

Creating a home full of memories is as much about change as preserving tradition. That’s why I bestow much love and warmth on the next family to inhabit 3 Ingham Road. May it serve you well.

Despite everyone’s urgings, this will not be where my family home. I am busy making my own thumb imprints elsewhere.

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