When I was 14 years old, a horrible car accident changed the dynamic of our family forever. Soon after that the house my family lived in was no longer a safe place for me to be. It wasn’t long before my single-and-never-been-a-mom-before aunt let me come and live with her.
She was glamorous. At least I’d always thought so. Her house was funky and cool, and unlike our house which felt lived in, hers was clean and bright. It was also packed with books. Each of her floor to ceiling bookshelves were often loaded two rows deep with novels, and she placed no restrictions on what I could read. So I did. I spent the after school hours until she got home drinking in the peaceful calm and silence of her house, I wouldn’t turn on the TV or radio until she pulled in the drive, and immersed myself in the eclectic library all around me.
It felt very sophisticated to be living in a house which had been decorated on purpose instead of a haphazard happening that just somehow came to be. The flower beds showed her love of gardening, and that was a revelation as well. The idea that yard work wasn’t a chore but a joy, and that back yards could be more than home to a swing-set or the place where the dog pooped. There was a hammock in her back yard, stretching out beneath the shade trees, where I would swing and listen to the wind ruffle the leaves all around me. It was the place where I began to find healing from the constant strife and fear my family home had become.
I didn’t live in that magical house very long, but the memory of it is written on my soul. When I close my eyes and imagine heaven, it very often looks like a small funky house on a side street in a coastal Texas town. Clean and bright. Sunlight flowing in through the windows and peace hanging heavy in the air.
I spent a few days with my aunt this past weekend, taking the baby to meet the woman for whom she was named. It’s not the same address, she moved years ago back to the college town she’d loved, but the feel of it is unchanged. The peaceful curl-up-on-the-couch-with-a-book and rest a while feeling is exactly as I remember it to be.
I haven’t been to her house in years. We have a lot of children, so it’s more practical for her to come to us, and so it was with amusement that I looked around her kitchen and saw so much that looked familiar. The colors. The dishes. The pottery collection. They’re all the same as mine.
I didn’t do it on purpose. Ten years ago I bought a Mexican pottery platter that I thought was pretty, then another, and before long I was collecting Talavera. Fiestaware dishes seemed to naturally compliment the vibrant colors, and so I swapped my plain white plates for a riot of color. Little by little, I slowly added pieces that spoke to me without thinking too hard about what it was that they were saying.
It was only when I stood in her kitchen early on Sunday morning that I realized they had spoken to me of safety and home. My time in her house was only a short season of my life, but the impact it had on me is still reverberating today. So much so that the platters and bowls sit on my shelf that whisper softly to me of belonging, love, and home.
Photo credit: Carl R Jr. via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND
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