Our house was built mid 1800’s, it’s evolutions marked in rises of the floor, sloping ceilings and the crooked corners of additions here and there. Our kitchen now was once the summer kitchen. We made our bedroom in the unfinished (still unheated) attic space above the kitchen. Altogether we have 4 bedrooms now and an office desk space carved out of a hallway.
Family is visiting. The eight kids running, laughing and playing inside our walls this week have no doubt encouraged my meditations on space. Recently, my husband met a man. One thing led to another as they talked and come to find out, the man knew our house and the family who had it before we did. He knew them because before they lived and raised their four kids here for 43 years, he and his family lived here. He was born in our house. He grew up here in a family of eleven children.
I assume, I pray, I hope, the summer kitchen had been converted by the time that they were here, but the bedrooms? When my brain happens upon free space, it is the sleeping arrangements of this very large family that I puzzle over, admire, and sometimes envy. Like a jigsaw, I picture the rooms and lay out the bodies in my mind. It intrigues me because it’s my space and my world configured in a very different way.
Two notions from the thirteen body pile up request consideration. First, about space and how easy it is to get piggish about it. MacDonald’s fries aren’t all that’s been supersized in the last fifty years. Despite my frustrations about design and layout, there are more people today living in housing inferior to mine than there are people living in houses superior to mine.
The second notion is about the meaning of it all. Space in a home is a lot like space with meteorites. Space by itself is nothing but the shape between things. Space in a home is nothing but the shape between people. A shape made holy only by the presence of kindness, compassion, long suffering, and love.
These are not new thoughts. I say them to remind myself of true things I forget. I doubt I am alone in periodically wearing down against the onslaught of propaganda screaming (or is it streaming?) STUFF MATTERS. Houses do a fine masquerade as stuff, not space. Stuff resembling space in that by itself it doesn’t matter, it’s what you do with it that counts.
Perhaps grace exists to reclaim a home, reconsecrate the spaces even when things aren’t quite as you’d make them in a perfect world. Or maybe things are already perfect and we simply need to open our hearts to the richness of the spaces.
Bitsabobs, by Boy two and the girls
Tuesday my lists were long, my spirit overwhelmed, and my brain sick of starving. Brain space is a problem around here. Heart space that lacks sufficient solitude gets satisfied in other ways, the magic of children, the joy of love. But brain space can be meager rations.
At breakfast I said I had a few quick things to do, work jobs began at 9:00 a.m. sharp. It was a plan. There was logic involved. On the porch, I wrote and thought. The kids don’t wear watches anyway, said I to me at 9:00. What’s it to them if we start late? At 11:30, I decided to run an errand, integral I determined to getting my ducks in a row. Besides, I could still hear them. I’ll be back in an hour. Make PB & J if you get hungry, I said to the children.
But why was there paint everywhere? They were squatting in a circle holding paintbrushes. And paint was against the rules without permission. I told them to clean it up, noted to be angry later, and left. I arrived home to apple cores and trails and piles of raisins on the table, happy sounds coming from upstairs. The raisins had been some kind of medicine or ammunition. I couldn’t understand the explanation, but whatever it was, it required them to consume great amounts with a great deal remaining, various piles belonging very specifically to someone. With great pride they told me of the triple decker, open faced PB & J sandwich that three of them had split. I was then asked to negotiate a battle involving a needle.
What needle, I asked cluing in half way through the diatribe of who did what. They had, I learned, forsaken the forbidden paints and gone straight to the use with permission only sewing kit. Amazing clothing had been produced, but they were terribly sorry about the not asking part. Someone should have done something really grim. But I couldn’t do it. I needed more space to think and didn’t want my entire brain power spent on speeches about rules and permission. I made them clean it up and promised out loud to be angry later. It seemed like the least I could do. Then I went back to thinking.
After dinner I sent everybody on a task that required them to be somewhere else and was somehow related to their crimes, although everyone preferred what they were asked to do to dishes. I did the dishes by myself in peace. Then I took pictures of their painted creation and their sewing projects.
One plus one is supposed to be two. Ergo, I should feel terrible about letting so much go . . . but if Bitsabobs and stuffed animal clothes were the cost of damn the torpedoes while the house crashes down around us so I can breathe some space to think, I accept with gratitude.
Another view of contraband laden, Bitsabob
Pants to accommodate tails available for early Christmas orders. :)