I am in love with my house.
I love my husband. I love my children. But I am totally and completely infatuated with my house.
Our house was built in 1880. This brings my brain no small bit of giddiness. When I was reading a couple of days ago about the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of World War I, I got all excited thinking that at one point, someone in this house was reading the news and learning that a world war had started. When Magoo visited an old school house and she learned about outhouses and everything that goes with an old building, I was excited to think that our house was even older than that.
Some nights I lie in bed wondering who else has slept in this room. What were their dreams? What were their disappointments? What had they seen? What has this house seen?
I look at the indiosyncracies and I wonder why they are there. Why are our windows absurdly low to the ground upstairs? Why the two attics? Why do you have to walk through the one bedroom to get to the other? Who decided upon the crown molding? Was it always there? What did the original owners do with all of the bedrooms? Our house is anything but large, but four bedrooms is a very decent amount.
I like making things on my own. It’s a pride thing, but it’s also a quality thing. I don’t think I can really make anything better than a machinated process, but the act of making, the act of caring, the act of dreaming something up and then putting it together seems to me to be infinitely superior to something a machine constructed in some dirty factory where people are under paid.
But I can’t build houses. I can almost nail a hole in the wall to hang up a picture without hurting myself. I dug up one shovel full of dirt as TJ was tilling the ground for our veggie garden. But that’s about the extent of my handiness in such manners. Unless a house is to be knitted, I am the last person you would want to build it.
So since I can’t actually build my own house, the next best thing is to live in a house that somebody else did. Now I know all houses are built by people, but these days, most houses are mass produced by corporations by people who will never live in them. So to have my house that was built and designed by the first people who lived in it is remarkable to me.
For six months, I have walked into this house and felt giddy. It’s probably silly to some because it is far from grand and the outside siding is really quite ugly, but to me, it is my little piece of peace. It’s my reprieve after having years of mighty troubles in our old place. It has been six months, and when people who I haven’t seen in awhile ask me how the new house is, I quite literally get tears in my eyes, and I don’t know how to answer because any words that come out of my mouth would be gushing.
But then Thursday happened.
TJ and I were sitting in the living room watching Hoarders when the cat walked out. She looked a little odd, so I took a closer look, and sure enough — she had a mouse in her mouth. Anyone who has read this blog for awhile or who has spent more than 1/8 of 1/15th of a second with me knows that I am absolutely and totally terrified of mice. It’s a pathological phobia. It goes far beyond human reason.
So I panicked.
TJ and the cat and the dog did their little dance that they learned oh so well at our old house and caught the little bastard, but I felt shaken to my core. There was a mouse. In my house. In my new house. In my peaceful place. In my home.
I didn’t know what to do, so I went to bed. And as I laid in bed, something came to me.
I can’t give up this house to those little assholes. I pray this is the only one we have, and I do have sufficient reason to expect that. But still. Mice are scary. But what is even more scary is not having a home.
I gave up my last place to them. I let them scare me out of most of my house. I was terrified to pick up anything off of the ground. I wouldn’t go in my garage. I would hide upstairs as long as I could with the girls in the morning, and when one morning as I was peacefully nursing Mae in the rocker and one came running out of TJ’s closet, I ran with my girls to a hotel.
It’s horrible feeling homeless. We spent the majority of every day trying to find a place to waste time. I would drop Magoo off at school and take them to a store or to the library or really anywhere other than home. This was fine for them. They had fun. But I knew the truth. I wasn’t there to give them new experiences. I was there because I had no home base. Nowhere to feel comfortable with.
And I absolutely will not do that again.
I’ve locked the cat up during TJ and my two hours of peace at night, and I might lock her up during the day tomorrow. That makes me feel better. I know she can’t bring me a treat then.
But besides that, I can’t surrender. I can’t get afraid of my laundry room (where she found it.) I can’t get afraid of my kitchen (which is attached to it.) I can’t fear my basement (where I presume they would love to be if they had to be somewhere.)
Because the thing about fear is that it creeps in. You give up one thing and then the next doesn’t seem so bad. And the next after that seems like the natural progression. Until your life is so absolutely tiny that you can’t even breathe in it any more.
If we find more mice, I’m sure I’ll have setbacks. Even if we don’t, I’m sure I’ll still have some fear creep up here and there. But I owe it to myself and I owe it to the girls to stand up to those rat bastards. (Really they are tiny field mice but to me they seem like that big rat guy in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.)
And then this evening, we were all out back. TJ was digging in the veggie garden, and I was helping him in between running down children trying to escape into the street. My neighbor came out and we were talking about the gardens in our yard. She was giving me the low down on what everything was and whatnot. Then we came to the poppy plants in our backyard. All of a sudden her husband came over and told us the story of those poppies.
He said they had been brought over to the US from a solider in World War II. He kept them in a sack and brought them all the way here and planted them. Apparently some had been dug up when our house and yard were renovated before we moved in, but we still have a few.
Imagine. Poppies brought all the way over from Germany. During the war. And planted here in my backyard.
That’s why I love this house. That’s why I sit here and just daydream about everything it has seen.
It’s a quirky little house. It’s not the White House. It has a lot of spiders. In order to get the AC to really cool the upstairs, we have to have it so cold down here that multiple blankets are required in the evenings.
But it’s my home. And I love it. And I want to do whatever it takes to hold on to that and not hand it over to an irrational phobia.
It seems impossible at times. Most fears usually do seem impossible to get over. But I love this home. And I love that my daughters have a safe home as their nest. And the greatest weapon against fear is love.
So maybe I’ll focus on that. I’ll remember that love needs to win. And the only way love will win is if it has me as its soldier.
I’m also a bit in love with this stump garden in our back yard!