Tuesday, June 1, 2010

This Old House

I read a book once about a man who goes crazy. He lives on a commune with a rotating assortment of people and they do normal commune things, as I picture communes. They live off the land and stay up late playing music and talking philosophy. The book is extremely interesting, as it's a true story of schizophrenia, but one thing that kind of puzzled me about the book was the description of the farm. Every time they mentioned something new about the house or the yard, almost every description made me picture this place.

This is my great-grandma's house. It's in Northeast Missouri in the middle of miles and miles of farm land. My family used to come here every now and then, after my great-grandma had passed away, and I was always completely intrigued by the house. We weren't allowed to open closets or go upstairs. We weren't allowed to go too close to the pond in the yard or swing too fast on the porch swing. As a kid, this place was a giant mystery I wasn't able to unlock. It has a different sort of smell, different feels, different bones and every new thing was exciting in some way.

Three years ago I came here for the first time in probably 15 years; but I didn't get the chance to explore the house in a way I had wanted to. It was still fascinating, but I still couldn't really dive in to the history.

This past weekend I got to revisit the house again - this time with just my dad. We quietly walked through the house like we were time travelers almost, afraid to touch something for fear of disturbing the space-time continuum or stepping on a butterfly and waking up a baby in China. Nothing is modern there. Apart from our clothes and my camera, I may have been the youngest thing in the house. It looks like it's been untouched for years. I love everything about it. I love the peeling wallpaper, the beehives that have been built in the walls, the silo in the backyard, the blue tiled bathroom, the lace curtains upstairs, the stack of old records - Johnny Cash and June Carter, of course - the creaking floors, the rattling door knobs, everything.

I want to stay up until 4 in the morning with a group of very close friends in this house. I want to learn to cultivate a garden and play the guitar and for Dave to grow a giant beard in this house. I don't know what it is about the farm that makes me want to suddenly abandon TV and air conditioning and possibly my iPhone... still deciding about that one... and go back to a time that I was never actually able to experience. But the longer I sit and think about it, the more I want to sit on the floor in the living room and become a crazy, schizophrenic hippy discussing the meaning of life.


Anonymous said...

Oh, the memories of being a little girl visiting her grandma in that house! Those kind of memories that bring tears to my eyes when I see the chair or the telephone. Thanks for capturing some of those things again for me...you have a magic way of saying things in print that I can only feel in my heart but never quite bring out to the surface. It's almost like you shared those memories of a lifetime ago with me....and you weren't even born at that time! AMAZING!

Love, MOM

kelli said...

I love this post! I especially love the photo of just the little chair against the wall. I would love to get my hands (aka camera) on an old place like that. Ahhh. Nice job.

Anonymous said...


You have an amazing gift to be able to put your perceptions down on paper. I for one hope you don't go the schizo route, as we already reside in such a world, but I would love to see this story of the old house developed into a children's book, with your own illustrations of course. It took me right back to my own memories of grandma's house. LeAnn