Contest:First Prize wins 2 Snail'd It Shirts!
In Community Works
Apr 06, 2018
I want one of those cool Snail'd It T-shirts - so I have dusted off one of my old writing pieces.... You and your cousin aren't the only "writers" in the family you know... ;-) My Back Deck Tonight I sat on my back deck. The moon and Jupiter were in alignment- at least that is what the 11 o clock news guy said. It was a beautiful spring night. The sky was clear, the winds clam, the sounds of close to midnight all around. The spring peepers in the wetlands across the road, the low murmur of traffic on Rte 3 in the distance, the jangle of Jefferson’s collar as he lumbered around the moonlit yard. This was our house. The house we bought before we got married; the house that holds the memories of 10 years of my life. As I type this, tears come to my eyes. It may seem corny, but as I sat on the back deck tonight, I talked to this house. For this house has become a part of our lives, like an old friend that has been there with us along the way. It met us as newlyweds and saw the birth of all three of our children. It shared with us the happiness of our first puppy, Buster and his early departure from this world at the young age of 5. And again, our joy in our new found four-legged child – Jeffeson. This house bears the marks of two people coming together as one. Both the good and the bad. It has shaped us as a couple and it will forever be a part of who we are. We have shared many a happy time under this roof as well as our share of grief and troubles. From the day we crossed the threshold as a newlywed couple and hanged the banner from our wedding trolley in our new garage (I folded it the other night after close to 10 years to the day that it was hung) this house has been “ours”. Yet I have to wonder if the house was as much ours as we were “part of it”. As only the third owners of a 100 + year old house we felt like we inherited not only a property but a home that had a significant history to tell. We did our best to honor her as we tried to make the rooms within our own. I like to think we were restoring her to some original beauty, but I know we were only scratching the surface of what once was a truly magnificent home. I still remember the day we crossed the threshold – a bit anti-climactic for the 6 months that we had rented her back to the owners we purchased it from. But that was OK since we had made the purchase 6 months prior to out wedding and now we were moving in as a newlywed couple. I still remember the man across the street, Dan, who was an elderly gentleman who had lived in his home for many years and now lived with his grown daughter and husband, giving us a bottle of wine for our marriage. It was our official welcome to a neighborhood and town, Chelmsford, which became our first home for 10 years. We came to know and love the neighborhood we called home, despite the fact that our backyard bordered an auto body shop and our street witnessed traffic that regularly exceeded the 30 MPH speed limit. We bought the house from a wonderful couple named Paul and Kathy, whom we remain friends with today. When we bought the house from them, their children, Michael and Laura were but babies. Now our own kids are older than theirs were when we signed the papers. How fast times do change. We had them to dinner a month ago and it was mind boggling to see their now teenagers interacting with our 3 & 4 year old. Where did the years go? I can recall a few. Before the kids arrived, I remember great parties in our wonderful backyard. The first and biggest ever was our “Tropical Party” just after we were married and moved in. We thought for sure that our new neighbors would never forgive us, but after only 4-5 years they began to accept us and laugh about the “party that never ended”. My memories of that most momentous occasion revolve around stringing up tropical fish “Christmas lights” and setting up a very large “vat” of punch into which every guest poured a bottle of something. My next vivid memory was of my good friend Doug from college declaring that we was “officially coming out of the closet” (the rest of us had known for years – hell, our nickname for him in the Frat was “mom”) and finally my buddy Erik, having spent the night in our hammock in the backyard declaring the party “a success”. I also somewhat remember the next two days but not in much detail. The years then moved on with us settling into married life while hosting Karen’s sister, Michelle who lived with us on and off between her international jaunts. We became a true couple under the roof of this house. We worked hard to make the place our own and to add an apartment in the attic with the help of many of our friends. Primary among them, my lifelong friend Chris, who endured the remnants of our wedding dinner, over and over again as the meager reward for his hours of after-hours labor. He especially seemed to like the potatoes – Chris, we love you – you are truly a man of integrity and we are so happy that you are now experiencing the bounty of all the hard work you have sowed over the years. As the years progressed we made the house our home and the structure itself became part of who we are. From the annual Holiday Party which outgrew our humble abode, to the nights spent sitting in our deck furniture on the back deck (a wedding gift from my brother and his wife) we loved our life in our home. There, on that deck, late afternoons would turn into evening into late nights, whether it was just the two of us admiring the old elm tree, our close friends enjoying a quiet dinner under the stars, or me and the boys after a night of soccer or mountain biking, that deck holds a lot of memories. Tonight as I sat on the railing only 4 short weeks from moving day, under a half moon and a warm April sky, I patted that railing and thanked the house that had accepted us for taking such good care of us for the first 10 years of our married life. This house has experienced almost every day of our married life including the happiest days of our lives, when our children, Logan, Gillian and Madison came home to join the family. It also has experienced the not so great times when we felt overwhelmed and/or fought over trivial things. But I like to think that this house with its 100+ years of history helped us through those times by showing us how insignificant our troubles were, based on what this home and the owners had witnessed – the Great Depresssion, 2 World Wars, Vietnam and the lives and deaths of the occupants that came before us. I think this home somewhat humbled us and that we are better for having lived here. As the years progressed, we learned the true meaning of love under this roof. We experienced the birth of our first child and the joys of bringing him home. These floors experienced the first steps he ever took and these walls heard with us the first time he said: Mumma and Dadda. These things will forever be in our hearts. Perhaps more than Karen and I, Logan became part of this home. In fact, while it may seem supersititious or silly, he talked at a young age of a “strange uncle” and older lady that seemed very real to him…. Part of me wonders if they were not part of the Peterson family who were the original owners of the home whose presence still exists within these walls. In due time our second bundle of joy Gillian was born, and like her brother before, she learned how to crawl and walk on the uneven wide pine floors that Karen and I grew to love. Gillian quickly established herself as an unbelievable spirit who we are constantly amazed by. There is no doubt that this house is “her castle” and I love the way she galavants about, owning every step she takes upon these floors. And three years later our third baby arrived – Madison Kelsey – our little love bug. She joined her brother and sister at 61 Dunstable and immediately set about letting all of us know who is the boss. With the twinkle in her eye and a smile that radiates from her whole face, she had four of us doting on her every need. And with her arrival began the discussion of whether it was time to move. I guess we had kind of known it for a few months. For about half way through the pregnancy with Madison when we tried to explain to Gillian that either she or Logan would have to share their rooms with the new baby she cocked her head, thought for a moment, and then replied “mom, if it’s a boy Logan can get bunkbeds,… and if it’s a girl……daddy can build her a new room!” And once the ultrasound revealed that it was a girl our fate was sealed – we would have to expand or move…. Actually, we had always thought we’d only be in this house for a few years. It was our “starter home” – but once we began to fix up one room, we realized that we had a calling – to restore this home to as close as possible to its original splendor. So ten years went by as we worked on the house and built our life together. Madison’s arrival simply helped us to look back at our “life plan” and decide to make a move. That and the fact that Logan and Gillian were getting to school age and watching them ride their bikes near our busy street was giving us a nervous condition. We wanted them to be able to grow up in a neighborhood like both Karen and I did – with other kids and families and the ability to cross or even play in the street without fear of getting killed. So, we began our search for our next home. And we found it rather quickly. Then all things moved very rapidly. In less than a week we had an offer on this, our home, and the wheels were in motion. So, as I write this, we are preparing to move from this home we love so much to a new home that will hold the memories of the next phase of our lives. While the new home is bigger, and it is very beautiful, it will never have the charm, character and memories of 61 Dunstable Road. We will never forget this wonderful house, and something tells me that she will never forget us. We tried to pick another nice young couple to inherit the history and memories contained within these walls. I am hopeful that they will continue upon the path of bringing her back to her full grandeur. They say home is where the heart is, but I think that your first home always keeps a piece of your heart for itself. Goodbye old friend. We’ll miss you.