Friday, April 23, 2010

This Old House

I walk across these floors, which span what was once our home together. The doorway in the kitchen is notched with pencil markings of varying heights, marking each year of our beautiful daughter’s growth. In the dining room hangs a chandelier from my childhood home. I look up and see the scars where it broke during a move, and you surprised me by having it welded back together so that I would have this piece of my childhood with me always, only the shop you went to made a mistake and welded it on the outside instead of the inside. You were upset, but I didn’t care. It was just another part of our story woven into the tapestry which was us, in this house. I carried our child up these stairs, and your laundry, breakfasts in bed, up and down, day after day. That was our life. That was our love. Or so I thought.

On the way into the bedroom, I see the first signs of the reality of what we really were. The lock on the door is broken, the wood is cracked and chipped away around it. I remember that night well. Me, locked in the bedroom, frantically calling the police. You, on the other side of the door, banging and screaming at me, right next to the room where our daughter lay sleeping. I ran to the bathroom to retreat from you even further, this door too is broken and scarred forever.

This house has stood for 75 years, these doors, never once marred, broken or damaged, this sanctuary showed no visible signs of the rage that you had towards me that night, for the first time in our story. And once it began, night after night, week after week, it was always the same. My home, my sanctuary, became the stage for your childhood trauma to unfold in our lives, set on replay over and over again. You said you would never be like your father, you said you would never hit a woman, you said you would never cheat and lie to the people you loved. This old house heard all of those lies come out of your mouth, just as I did. This old house now too has the scars that prove that one of our biggest problems was you not knowing how to love yourself enough to begin to comprehend how to love the people in your life that believed in you.

The doors will get fixed in time, one day, just as I will be completely healed, in time, one day. The doorway to you and I, however, is forever sealed with pain, and I don’t see that being fixed anytime soon.


  1. Been there myself. And this is beautifully written.

  2. The badly welded chandelier being another part of your story woven into the tapestry of your life in that house is a poignant image. Old houses, particularly if more than one generation has lived there, do almost seem to have a consciousness. Our homes might or might not ever see us at our best, but if we live in a house long enough, sooner or later it will certainly see us at our worst.

  3. Thank you for the kind words. And Mark, it is true, there is always something, somewhere, that sees us for who we truly are, whether we want to admit to that or not.