Where My Heart Is

The Next Family

By: Tosha Woronov

photo

I am having an affair.
A love affair.
With my house.
We are about to move – to a better school district, a sweeter kindergarten, and it’s a good thing. The right decision. But I cannot focus on that now.

I am in love.

I stare longingly at my fruit trees: grapefruit, orange, lemon. Hundreds of full and giant grapefruit hang overhead, the biggest deep within branches taller than the house, fruit that can never- should never?- be reached. The persimmon tree stands stark and naked now against the spring sky, for not until November will its deep orange, heart-shaped fruit appear. I won’t be here to see it, and will miss delivering boxes of the spicy stuff to Leo’s preschool, or to my friend Julie, who loves them. I have a recipe for persimmon cookies, but never got around to testing it. The crepe myrtle tree is not only my outdoor shelving unit – bird feeders, hummingbird nectar, and potted geraniums hang from her branches – but also the squirrels’ escape route, should our dog decide to give them a chase. She has no off-season, as pretty now -absent of foliage, all twisted, white, “petrified” wood -as in the summer, adorned in pink blossoms. In the fall, a twinkling noise can be heard, like tiny copper coins. Tink tink tinkly tink. It is the sound of the crepe myrtle’s leaves, falling like rain on the patio, and it lasts for two days.

Inside, the affair continues. I take inventory of what we are leaving: the antique crystal doorknobs. Good morning, doorknobs. I will miss you. Our bedroom, warm light pouring in from the French door. Of all the rooms in which I’ve lain, this one rested me –me and my boys –best. I no longer curse the kitchen cabinets, which hang so low and close to the counters as to give me no cooking space at all. Today I peer with gratitude into their cavernous insides, holding my ever-growing collection of holiday dishes and wonder where will I store those pieces now? Leo’s bathtub, toys scattered within. He fell in it once, reaching for the bubbles. Just toppled in, head heavier than legs, scaring me half to death. Now he’s a big boy and simply climbs in and out on his own. The stairs. Stairs that no longer require the baby gate that was once the most important item on Peter’s To Do list. Turned out the baby gate was needed as much by our dog, who, not used to indoor stairs in the beginning, would throw himself off of the fourth-from-the-bottom step, slide dangerously fast on the wood floors below, and bodyslam into the front door. He eventually figured it out.

We’ve celebrated in this house: Thanksgiving feasts, Christmas Eve cocktail parties, a “dark purple dinosaur party” on Leo’s 3rd birthday, easter egg hunts. One Christmas, both sets of families stayed here -four grandparents, two aunts, one uncle, and us -all together under the same roof. I doubt it will ever happen again, not because we drove each other crazy (we didn’t!), but because the new house just isn’t as big.

Peter gently points out that I’ve been through this before, that I had a love affair with the house prior to this one. At that time, I cried about leaving West Hollywood. I cried over the lineoleum floors in this kitchen (those I will not miss). I cried about the new backyard that needed so much —so much –work.

But we did the work, didn’t we? We planted tomatoes, and peas, and basil, and gerberas. We tilled the soil, put up a fence, assembled and stained a picnic table. We drew a bath, threw a party, framed a painting, scrubbed the floors, hung a growth chart, laid a rug, baked some cupcakes.

I put my heart into this house.

And, like my crystal stemware, it’s time to pack it up, and take it with me.

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