“Our House: In the Middle of the Week”
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, “shelter” could fall somewhere between being a physiological and a safety need. What I know is I like all kinds of shelter–
(“But I had to grab her, honey; she looked faint, and you’ve told me I need to be more caring. Frankly, now that I think about it, it’s your fault.”)
Outside of treehouses and ant tunnels, though, my current favorite shelter is our house. And within the house, this is my favorite room to stare at. Since I don’t live at a primal substistence level, wherein I hide from predators in my smokey cave and proudly point to this new thing I’ve discovered called “wheel” while reclining on my sleeping furs and ripping at a mastodon leg with my three snaggly teeth, I have a house where things have been chosen for their aesthetic and emotional value. This is what we modern folk do, right? We surround ourselves with stuff that somehow feels loving?
This particular room feels like love to me because:
it has a bold pumpkinish color, accented by an even bolder spring-green trim. You don’t have to like it, but you have to appreciate that we tore down the old wooden paneling, rehung some sheetrock, and threw our heads open to a new vista
it hosts the dining room table and chairs I grew up with; indeed, this brave table and its chair pals made the long journey across the plains from Montana here to Minnesota, stopping to view Mt. Rushmore along the way…and now they’re back with me. I can never look at this table without envisioning my brother, at age 14, scarfing down 3 bowls of Raisin Bran every morning before school. He’d finish one bowl of flakes and then add a new heap into the remaining milk, all the while chuckling over the funnies and that crazy Andy Capp
the stained-glass floor lamp was my dad’s before he died. I’m pretty sure he bought it at Sam’s Club, and what ups the sentimental value of an object more than such a lofty provenance? The day he purchased this lamp, I’m sure my dad tried a sample of Little Smokies on a toothpick, followed by a small paper cup full of Nutty Granola
the houseplant on the table was sent to me after my lamp-loving dad died…sent to me by a college friend whom I see every three years if I’m lucky. But that plant showed up at the height of my grief, and it sent me a message of “Some things still live. And I know you hurt”
that little bench in front of the radiator is actually a piece from a bedroom set that was my grandmother’s (she who was born in a sod house on the Montana prairie and never lived more than 10 miles from that birthplace). This set also includes a piece called a “chifforobe” (which is upstairs in our bedroom and houses Groom’s wool socks) and I very much appreciate the opportunity to know that word. As with the dining furniture, the bedroom set also made the long, dusty journey past Wall Drug, from Montana to Minnesota. And now, 70 years after its birth, this little bench houses the rear ends of my kids as they play games on pbskids.org. How far you’ve come, Little Bench! The stars (and moons) are your limit
the rug on the floor is one of two household items that remind me my husband and I are adults. While nearly everything else in the house is a hand-me-down, we actually chose this rug and paid adult-type money for it (not just the usual Monopoly bucks we try to pass off at the Dairy Queen)
the pirate ship under the table was Wee Niblet’s Christmas present; it is Playmobil, and Playmobil sets are the toys I buy for my kids now and pretend they actually wanted them, when in fact ’tis I who gets lost in their glory–having never experienced them as a child. Within this ship, there are cannons, treasure chests, lanterns, and a hold for scurvy knaves. There is also a very small Johnny Depp who lives on the Crow’s Nest. He creeps up to me at night and massages my feet, kissing my toes reverently
Most def, these few square feet of my house warm every one of my cockles. The rest of the joint, by the way, looks like the Abominable Snowman picked up a cargo jet–one carrying rubber duckies, jars of pickles, and 40 tons of Goldfish crackers–and tossed it, in a fit of pique, onto our lot.