When we moved into this house, a dear friend gave us as a housewarming gift a book about the history of Huntington Woods. It was amazing to see the dirt roads and old farmhouses that began our little enclave.
Our house is older than the earliest date in the book, so unfortunately we can’t find out much there. But we have spun stories about this home of ours based on the details and what we’ve found. An oil can in the walls from the 1930s. A tiny room with a tinier bathroom attached to a balcony – we say it was formerly a back staircase for the servants who lived there.
There are four buttons on walls throughout the house that ring into the kitchen – again, calling the help to wait on us. Today, the help is defined by kids beckoning parents or me asking my husband to refill my wine glass. (As if!) But we love seeing those little buttons and pushing them as a reminder of eras gone by.
When we travel, I love to learn about the history of the streets we traverse. Who lived here, what was it like way back when, how did it begin. What comes before informs what is to come.
It’s why we trace our family histories, decorate our family trees. We have an insatiable desire to understand our history in order to make sense of our today.
I have taken my children to the cemetery, to touch the cool stone above the graves of my grandparents and great-grandparents, people they never knew but are named for. It’s always perfect quiet and peaceful in a cemetery. You can’t hear the road traffic even half a mile away. A cocoon of understanding.
The place where I grew up has a long backyard with green, green grass and a quiet carpeted basement where we used to make up whole worlds. My bedroom window overlooked the yard and in the night, I could see stars and darkness and sleep in the assurance of peace.
My parents still live there. I am pretty lucky that my childhood home is still the place I go home to.
We choose colors and fabrics, rugs and paintings, but when you take it all away, there is the story of the place, the story in the walls, in the bones of the building, from far before we stepped foot inside and called it our own, and far after we have decided to move on.
Do we merge the story of the place with the story of Self? Are we as much a conglomeration of events and emotions as the places we drift through?
This morning, I had the distinct desire to drive a few miles north and walk in the stunning silence of morning on the grounds of a favorite beautiful place. A pond that cascades into rivers, tall trees and sloping hills, quiet paths. The grounding of being in the world, and of it.