We bring home, from far off places, things to remind us of where we’ve been, and who was there. This tin star from New Mexico is hung in our home after waiting two years for a light to brighten it. The light is found on the day my fiancé’s grandson is born, on a day where friends and family say, “welcome to the world.” We hang this star of colored beads to welcome him. This star bought the day before I knew what love felt like, having explained to a friend that when you’re older, you finally recognize love, and accept it for what it is. This star reminds me of unconditional love, and when I was welcomed to the world two years ago. So welcome Connor, too, and know that today, just now, your star is born and hanging in our home.
Destruction feels good, knocking away detritus, cobwebbed shingles, rotted wood. We understand now how the house got away from her. Neglect tells stories, reveals pain. So we slam the iron fist hammer to clear hurt, loss, and damage to rebuild a porch, a place to enter our new home that is being torn asunder bit by bit. When the year passes, and we have stripped away what was left to us, the new will not replace the old, but rather the old will inform it so that we remember to acknowledge and repair in the coming years to keep our house strong.
In the hush of morning, our neighbor is lost. Gone are hanging baskets, a throaty laugh, smiles. Gone are watchful eyes, keeping our corner safe. Gone, too, is Sunday church, those days she was so beautiful in her best dress. Gone will be the name Olevia from our lips, except as memory instead of a call across the street. Gone are friendly waves, those elegant fingers, a matriarchal spirit. Gone are the moments we recognized each other as people, backgrounds and lives far different, but neighbors caught up in our daily lives, living peacefully, together, loving the changing seasons, children growing, lives passing, neighbors leaving a mark on our hearts.
Our turtle, Trevor by decree, greets our friends on the stairs leading down to our future garden. By nature slow, in water, buoyed by salt and waves, turtles are weightless. Years ago, shoulders heavy from my lost mother, in Hawaii’s warm blue, a turtle rose up to greet me and floated there. I’m still, eyes agape, wonder filling me, smiling. We broke bread, spoke awhile, I bowed to it with pressed hands and egg-beater legs. The ancient years collapsed into a moment then, and then again when I placed our Trevor just there, just where he could surprise, and spark a memory.
Spiders have a bad rap, hanging as they do from doorways, windows, rosemary and juniper as if ready to pounce. They announce fall, nets catching the last flies, gnats; intricate threads drip diamonds early mornings when the fog is hard against our windows. There it is, waiting, waiting for the hapless, still as dark, legs attached to nothing it seems, waiting to sense a slight change, to prey, to wrap the slightest being, scare the timid, herald cold’s arrival with a shiver though it didn’t mean to. Down the tensile it travels when winter comes burrowing with us until warmth returns.
Lines like roads etch the stucco. our house’s face a roadmap of weather: rain, wind, sun, and today, this fog. Fog against the windows, in the eaves, sun just breaking through. We question whether to demolish and strip away the years, or patch and repair, leaving the history, and the roads traveled, as proud reminders of the lives lived. Who are we to decide the fate of a house, built by unknown hands, loved and neglected, loved again, and then left to ruin? My thought is to renew and restore, patch and paste, keeping the history of the house intact so the whispering cracks and crevices continue to speak.