My mom’s friend Anne painted this picture. It’s the house I grew up in. The house is now over 100 years old. Although my parents sold it over two years ago I still consider it my home.
I grew up in this house. It has creaky floors, drafty bathrooms and a huge rock in the basement. It also has so many memories that it’s hard to remember them all.
Like the cow bell. When my mom and dad were in Austria for their honeymoon they bought a cow bell. A big ass metal cow bell. That cow bell lived on the cabinet by the front door of this house. It had one purpose. When it was time for us to come home, my mom would stand on the front doorstep and ring that cow bell. Everybody knew when they heard the cow bell that the Hamilton kids had to go home. The cow bell had done its job.
Or the living room. The room where my dad would have his scotch every night after work while he read the paper. The room where the fire place would warm us all up after being outside. The room where we hung our Christmas stocking each Christmas. The room where I told my parents that I was going to Europe instead of college. The room that my son learnt how to crawl in. The room that I used to rock out to Sonny and Cher to. Ya, that’s right. Sonny and Cher.
Then there’s the kitchen. The tiny kitchen that somehow produced enough food for many, many parties, Thanksgivings and birthdays. I can’t remember how old I was when we finally got a dishwasher. After dinner there were three jobs to do in the kitchen. Wash, dry or feed the cat. Accidents happened in that kitchen. Typically after too much wine. I learnt how to cook with my mom in that kitchen. Typically after too much wine. Wait,did I say that already?
My dad’s study. The tiny room at the top of the stairs. Boiling hot in the summer but holy crap what a view he had. If you climbed out the window you were at the top of fire escape. When the door was closed we knew to be quiet. The dreams that were hatched from that tiny room have helped my family be who they are today. The black rotary phone on the mahogany desk that my dad used to make endless calls getting his business up and running. Funny how the smallest room in the house may have had the biggest impact.
Perhaps the best part of the house wasn’t even in the house.
The yard. The tree in the back that my sister fell out of and broke her arm. The metal pallets that we would put the wading pool on so the water would warm up faster. The thousands of rocky holes and nooks and crannies where my parents hid foil covered Easter eggs every year for us and then for our kids. The steep driveway that you had to take a run at to get out of if it snowed. The cherry tree that we could reach from my sisters bedroom window on a warm summer day.
I wonder sometimes as I write these posts if anybody is even interested in my old house? But then I think that one day I will be old (er) and maybe I won’t be able to remember all the great things about the house.
The Best Thing in Life is going to be reading this years from now and smiling the same way I am smiling today.
In the second installment of my Throw Back Thursday endeavor I chose a picture of my son sitting on the stairs in the townhouse we lived in for five years. It’s not the only picture of that time, or of that place, but somehow it always takes me back there.
When my son was three months old, I left my husband. I lived with my parents for six months but the reality was that I needed to start over and that meant finding my own place. With the help of a real estate agent I looked at, what seemed like, hundreds of apartments and condos on the North Shore of Vancouver. I loved this place as soon as I walked in. It was roomy and bright and just felt good. My son did not have such a great first impression. As we were leaving I had sat him down on the first step going up from the foyer. I was standing in front of him while I put my shoes on but somehow he worked his way around my legs and fell head first onto the tiled entryway floor. He cried non stop for the next hour. I bought it anyway.
When we first moved in I had very little of anything. I had borrowed a crib and a change table from my sister. I had a mattress and a side table in my bedroom. The kitchen had a folding table, four folding chairs and a high chair. The living/dining room had a cardboard box with a borrowed black and white TV on top of it. A few weeks after I moved in my brother bought me a love seat for the living room. So basically I had a lot of empty space. With a nine month old boy just starting to pull up and walk it was actually great. Lots of play space and room for building block cities and hot wheels race tracks. Great when he was there. Empty and lonely when he was not.
Part of the reason that I chose this townhouse was how close it was to everything that I would need. I could walk to stores, restaurants and a great park just down the street. That first year was made so much better with green space to enjoy a couple of blocks away. On the weekends I would put my son in the stroller at nap time and he would have a nice long sleep while I got some much-needed exercise exploring the neighborhood. The townhouse also had a great patio off the living room that my son could crawl out onto and not get into any trouble. We planted flowers in a big half barrel that year and spent lots of time chasing each other around it and enjoying the sun.
Every wall in the townhouse was white when I first moved in. Boring yes, but also a blank canvas. Coming out of a very controlling relationship, I can remember how great it was to be able to decide on whatever I wanted to do with this blank canvas. I could put up any artwork I wanted to and paint walls any colour I wanted. Freedom. Exhilarating, heady freedom. I couldn’t afford a lot but I bought what I liked and hung it wherever I wanted to. Some of the art was even hung a bit crooked. I loved it. And I didn’t have to ask anybody what they thought. A very new concept for me. And I bought fresh flowers every week. Just because I wanted to.
It was a difficult time for sure but after a few months I met someone and eventually he helped my son and I fill up all the empty space in the townhouse. I no longer needed to buy flowers to cheer myself up and welcomed a second opinion on where to hang the artwork. The Best Thing in Life is new beginnings.