Familiarity Breeds Comfort

Monday, November 7, 2011

When I told my daughter that we were thinking of selling our house, she came up with all sorts of reasons why we shouldn't. But I think her real objection comes from her emotional connection with the home she lived in from birth through college.

I didn't have that stability when I was young. My family moved five times before I finished college, and that doesn't count two sabbaticals to foreign countries. Our longest stay was eight years at DeTour Village, Michigan in a house that was cold and drafty. It did have good climbing trees, a garage roof we jumped off of (when my parents weren't looking), a raised front porch with enough room underneath to play house, and an enclosed back porch that was a great place for curling up with a book. But even the house at DeTour didn't create an emotional connection.

That privilege belonged to my grandparents' house in Iowa, shown in the three pictures with this post.

My mother grew up on a farm, and we visited at least once a year. I loved that old farmhouse. I even loved the wall plates for the lights, which used buttons instead of the switches we see today. You would press one button to turn the lights on and a second button to turn the lights off. I was fascinated.

The house wasn't perfect, of course. The small kitchen and the only bathroom (cramped, with a shower but no tub) were located in the original one-story structure at the rear of the house and shared the space with a separate dining room. But the two-story part had plenty of large rooms, and I would have loved to turn one of the four upstairs bedrooms and my grandfather's main-floor bedroom into full baths. Then I could have knocked out the existing bathroom and used that square footage to expand the kitchen. After the remodeling, it would truly have been my dream house.

I knew, of course, that my fantasy was just that. The location simply wasn't realistic for my career goals, and when my grandparents grew older and eventually moved in with one of my aunts, the house fell into disrepair. In the end, the only choice was to raze it.

But I miss that old house just as Caroline will miss this one if we move out. Even though she now owns her own home and rarely has a chance to come back here for a visit, this house will always have a place in her heart.

Because familiarity breeds comfort.

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