Creaks, Bumps, and Memories in the Making
December 18th, 2016
The door between the kitchen and the garage in my new house slams, no matter how carefully you exit the building. It gives the impression that whoever just left the house did so in a fit of barely-controlled fury. But no, it’s just a faulty spring. And the toilet in the downstairs bathroom has personality. You have to count to two while holding the handle or it doesn’t flush completely. I suspect my children will be in college before they figure that out, despite repeated conversations on the topic.
Settling into a new house is a learning process. Take the hardwood floors. I love them. They’re gorgeous and smooth and friendly. And loud. Oh my heavens, it’s like someone is tap dancing on bubble wrap when you walk across the room. The creaking cacophony does bring some benefits, as children trying to sneak stealthily down the stairs after lights-out are easily apprehended and redirected. But on the flip side, mothers trying to sneak stealthily into bedrooms to retrieve forgotten cell phones are also easily apprehended.
Then there are the temperature differentials. The presence of window air-conditioners in the upstairs bedrooms was my first clue that the house doesn’t cool evenly. But little did I suspect that my bedroom on the first floor stays nearly 10 degrees colder than the rest of the house for reasons that are not entirely clear. At night, you’ll find me buried under four or five blankets with only my nose peeking out. Burrowing down into a warm cocoon is great for sleeping, but getting up in the morning takes a herculean effort. There’s nothing like putting your feet onto cold hardwood in a frigid room in the pitch black of early winter mornings to make you rethink the importance of leaving the house. Or the bed.
Also, my ice-maker is possessed. It’s the loudest piece of machinery I’ve ever had the misfortune to cohabitate with. I lost at least two years off my life the first time it kicked on when I was home alone. It sounded for all the world like something out of Poltergeist. Not that I’ve actually seen that movie – do I look crazy to you?
To be honest, though, I enjoy the quirks to this house because they feel like memories in the making. I remember memorizing the squeaks in the staircase of my parents’ house when I was growing up. I knew when to stay to the edges and which step to skip entirely. It was a carefully choreographed routine. The downstairs bathroom door has an old wrought-iron knob that you have to jiggle and pull just right and recite the magic words to get it to latch. The stairs to the basement are creepily open to the cob-webbed recesses beneath and I used to be terrified of going up and down them.
My parents have lived in that house for over thirty years and I know all the ins and outs. The idiosyncrasies become familiar and comforting with time. I’m sure we’ll learn all the secrets of this new house in the years to come. Like the way you can keep the upstairs bedroom door from squeaking if you push down on the knob while you open it. I’m sure my kids will try to map the quietest path through the house, only to give themselves away with barely-restrained giggles. They’ll look back years from now and shake their heads at the futility of the quest. It’s things like this that make a house a home.