I live in a rambling Folk Victorian farmhouse that has long since seen the glory days. It is old, worn-out and tired after more than a century of raising families.
This farmhouse, and the two barns that were part of the property, were built on the outskirts of my little town well over 100 years ago. Now, my house is no longer a farm and the barns are long gone. “Town” kept coming in the late 1800’s and my house is now one of many lining both sides of Main Street.
I love this house dearly, but some days it is overwhelming to stand outside and look closely. You can actually hear the to-do list growing. The porches are sagging and the roof needed replaced longer ago than I have been alive. The days of insulation have not arrived here yet and standing by the windows when the winter wind blows will chill you to the core.
It is overwhelming, but I cannot turn my back on it. When you drive past, you may only see that this house is run-down, only see what needs fixed. You wouldn’t see that I moved back into this house as a young wife, alone with my first baby, while my husband was deployed again. You wouldn’t see the scuffs in the floor where I paced at night, to calm the baby, while I waited and prayed for his weekly phone call.
There is no way you could see the memories I have of the years I lived in this house as a child. The memories of staying here with my older brother, those memories fading at the edges now that he is gone. We fought like warriors, racing around this house and taking full strategic advantage of the loop created by the stairs at the front and back of the house. More than once, I was ambushed coming around the corner at the back stairs and forced to admit defeat. I hope we have the renovations finished in time for my own children to stomp up the front stairs and hurtle down the back stairs in their own epic battles. If we are still living here, I will cheat this time and show my girls that sweet spot to take their brother out as he comes around that corner.
You won’t be able to hear the hours I spent with the front door wide open, swinging on the porch swing, lost in whatever book I was reading, listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival pouring out of the house. I am 12 years old again, melancholy, every time I hear the music in my mind. I have seen the rain, I’ve lived in the rain for the last 2 years.
You wouldn’t realize on your drive by that my father bought this house to bring it back into the family. That it was built by his mother’s grandfather. That her father and uncle carved their initials into the foundation stones and steps. That her family owned this home through the turn of the century, the Great Depression and the Wars. That I owe it something more than letting it be forgotten.
But at what cost? My husband and I dream of the day we will have our own farmstead. We are slowly working towards that day. My heart hurts to think I will have to turn my back on one dream to achieve another. We will put this old house back together over the rest of our lives, but we will not be staying here for my children to grow and come back here with their own children. We will rent it out someday and pray that we can choose carefully who will live here and respect the history. But history is not meant to be a handcuff and I can’t live in two places at the same time.