A chair is still a chair
Even when there’s no one sittin’ there
But a chair is not a house
And a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight
And no one there you can kiss goodnight
That song by Burt Bacharach was playing in my head a few minutes ago as I sat in my pool.
It’s the 4th of July, and the neighbors are having parties. I hear the call of “Daddy, throw me!”, the splashing and screaming in the pool, mom declaring she’s just put out some cherries and when does everyone want to eat. I hear the same thing echoing up from the past, distant memories. The whirring of the blender for margaritas, the constant battle to keep the kids from running around the pool, Tom standing at the grill, spatula in hand , in his happy place.
I weep for a few minutes, but stay in the sun, in the pool. I force myself to listen, to really hear the sounds that are right there, and the sounds that are playing in my head. There is a huge difference between the two sounds, the reality of one, the desperate wishing for the other. But one IS and one will never be again.
This is actually a very good thing, this knowing, this remembering. It forces me to ground myself back into reality, to look at my life squarely and accept what is. And what I think I have truly, just in this last hour, accepted is that THIS house is not a home. I tried so hard to make it one, or, rather, keep it one. After Tom died I still had parties, had Barney’s friends over, invited people to dinner, had a whole play reading in my living room…tried to keep it a home, where life happened. But that life kept getting smaller and smaller. Fewer and fewer people were invited over. Dinners, parties, anything like that just stopped. This home became a house where I hid and drank, where my son locked himself in his room and stopped engaging in life. This house became a private hell of memories and pain and denial, a nasty, fetid place.
One day it got better. One day I faced reality, accepted my circumstances and tried to make amends for what had happened. Too much water under the bridge for it all, but at least this structure became a house again, one that nourished us and felt safe once again. One that I left and began participating in life once again from. Where my son and I were able to call a truce and live together relatively peacefully until he was able to move on and out.
The house that is now sold. The house that I am packing up, dumping belongings from, letting go.
It IS just a house. A great house that has served me well but which hasn’t been a home since Tom died. Which had become, in many ways, a millstone around my neck
The great news though, is that as I lay in the pool and heard the neighbors sounds, I knew that, once again this house would be a home. Someone else’s. A couple with children who would learn to swim in my pool. Go to sleep in my bedroom. Have parties in my yard.
MY. Once OUR, now MY. Soon THEIR.
And even though all of this reflecting makes me teary, it’s not a bad teary. It’s hopeful and exciting. I keep thinking about all the joy this house held for us, and how much joy it will hold for them. That is my deepest wish, and I feel like it will come true. Because there is no way the love and joy that lived in this house, this home, could not somehow visit upon the next owners.
And that makes me happy beyond measure.
That this house will become a home once again, with rooms and chairs and people to hug and kiss good night.
And nowfor a little Luther Vandross, old school slow jam …..enjoy!