Monday, May 17, 2010

True To Type

I'm not sure if anyone else feels the way I do about houses, but for me, the house I live in plays a very big role in how I see myself. Whether I feel "at home" somewhere depends a lot on the personality of a place and the kind of vibe it has.

I'm not sure it's possible to pin me down to any particular descriptors. I have a capricious personality and my writerly instincts have me swingly wildly from very social to near-hermit within an afternoon. I describe myself as Whistler's Mother on a Unicycle, which is as clear a mental picture as I can form for my inner world. A little old lady has definetely taken residence in my psyche. Why else would I have a penchant for J & S Cafeteria, clothes from Hamricks, and comfortable shoes with good arch support? Said little old lady keeps iron-clad control on my sense of propriety, and the number of times I've rebelled against her remain in the single digits. And yet, there's a part of me that is so artsy-fartsy, so bohemian, so quirky, that little old lady has trouble keeping up. They are not good roommates, as you might imagine. One is always stewing or chafing. Fun times in my head...

So when I first saw our new house, and everybody settled in and made themselves at home, it was a pretty monumental moment. The house was what I needed--old architecture with plenty of whimsy.

I can't count the number of people who have said, "It's not my style, but it's so you."

I know why I like it, and why it suites me, but I'm a little surprised that other people know me well enough to understand it too. I probably kid myself into thinking I'm keeping up appearances--that I can pass for someone living in my own time--whose life is not ruled by a crotchety geriatric longing for the good old days. But apparently not. :-)

I've never had the experience before of walking into a house and knowing that it was meant for me. The house Tom and I built when we first got married never felt like mine since we never had a chance to so much as paint the walls--and even now I feel a huge sense of loss surrounding it--and not even so much that we had to sell it, but that it never was mine to begin with. The 1970s tri-level was certainly not me. Even the house I live in now, that I love, has never felt like mine. In my head it belongs to all the families that came before us, and the ones that are coming after.
But this house-- I can't even put into words how I felt. It was as if the past and present collided for me and all the things I loved materialized into one space and time. If the house has a personality, it's another little old lady, rosy-cheeked, cheerful, welcoming--as sure and steady as a grandparent, as in sync with me and as comfortable to me as my oldest and dearest friend. Even the colors on the wall seem to be there for me and only me.

The yellow in the living room is the exact shade I told Tom I wanted to paint our next house.
The red in the dining room is the exact shade we painted our kitchen.
The yellow in the new kitchen is the exact shade I painted our dining room in Ohio before Tom declared it "clown car yellow" and repainted it an earth tone. Plus there are white cabinets with space for my cast iron scottie and westie collection.
Sam's room here and in the new house is the exact same shade.
The blue in the boys' bathroom perfectly matches their Cat in the Hat shower curtain we've been using for the last two years here.
The green in the playroom is the same shade as John's room now.
And every single piece of artwork I own, from the color scheme to the style, looks like it was made to go in this house.

It's as if my entire life we've been waiting to find each other.

And adding to the wierd Kismet-thing going on here, I want to add that I am not exactly known for my stellar sense of direction. I cannot give directions because I rarely have a clue about something as helpful as road names I have absolutely zero spatial ability, and probably couldn't get out of a wet paper bag most days.

Tom says it's because I've been poring over maps of the area for the last year and a half, but I don't give myself that much credit. I lived in Asheville the majority of my life and to this day get completely turned around every time I use the interstate. And yet, in Albany, NY, I know exactly where I am, what direction I'm facing, which roads will intersect, the layout of every suburb in relation to each other, and whether we're going the right way by gut feeling--and it's not the easiest place in the world to navigate as its one of the longest-settled areas in the country--I'm talking crazy, mind-boggling city planning. I have been to Albany exactly four times in my life but it's like my internal compass is just set there.

Now again, I'm not normally this sentimental and woo-woo about things, so when I get this way, you have to realize that it's a major event. My entire body is vibrating with excitement over this house and this move. I cannot wait to get in it and scream "I'm Home!"


  1. so perfect! i am giddy happy for you!

    in an old boston apt, i painted my kitchen the same crazy clown yellow, with cobalt blue trim, 1920s building.

    the landlord was not pleased.

    i swear, we have very similar sensibilites, at cross purposes between sensible control freak and living outloud bohemian.

    i usually blame being a capricorn for the old lady fusspot who lives in one corner of my soul. she likes irish lace armchair pieces and ceramic flowers, while the rest of me likes funky bright colors and strong lines.

  2. Yes, that's Capricorn for you.

    To complicate my life further, my ascendant is in Libra and my Moon and Venus are in Aquarius. I am constantly at odds with myself. :-P

    I've always thought I should have been born a Sag. It would've been a nice compromise and I love Sags. Have dated so many I've lost count and if one's in a room, I naturally gravitate to them...


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