Saturday, June 30, 2007
Catching up to NEW
The house I grew up in was sold when I was away at my sophomore year in college. My family often jokes about needing to leave a forwarding address for my brother and I to find our way home at Thanksgiving break. It wasn't quite that dramatic but it makes for a better story. My parents have had a home in the rocky mountains for almost my entire life. This is the last standing structure with which our memories are etched in the woodwork. We've owned the house for 32 years but it was built 5 prior to that. Hence, the 1960's avocado counter tops and yellow refrigerator were really starting to bug my mom. Furniture, in our family, found its way here. 1000 miles west of our permanent residences, mine now included, to live out its final days. Nothing in this vacation house matches and we've enjoyed that ease of living. No worries that the kids would ruin something. Everything was perfectly worn in.
Having my own children enjoy this house now is quite bizarre to me. When I brought my oldest here for the first time, 5 years ago, and unpacked his little onesies and other necessities, I broke down at the idea that my child's items were being stored in my baby dresser. As he grew he started sleeping in the brass bed that donned my adolescent room for nearly 18 years. I have sat and played puzzles and games with him that my brother and I enjoyed when we were his age. The list goes on and on. Now that my younger son is coming up through the ranks it's that much more meaningful that these memories live on. I should be clear in stating that it's not the things in the house as much as the feeling in the house. A feeling that has been poured into the fabrics of the items inside. Many items carry a story all their own. The grandfather clock that only gets wound if my father is visiting the house. The dining room table that almost didn't make it through customs when my parents visited Mexico 40+ years ago and has had held holiday dinners, group gatherings as well as gin rummy or scrabble championships. Memories of laughter and family times are in every support beam and every mismatched, out of date appliance and accessory.
Last year my parents decided to level the house and build a new more expanding family friendly monstrosity. NooooOOO I exclaimed. I shared my above thoughts with them and they realized that they too had similar attachments to these peeling stucco walls. We compromised at renovating the existing structure. Keeping the footprint and updating much of the inside. My mom has a knack at altering a space while keeping the end users purpose of the space in mind all the while. I trusted her implicitly. After all, she too was attached to the memories of the house and the family times it stood for. Heck, she started this whole family experience that has now touched three generations. I knew we were in good hands.
In the past year she has made several renditions to the blue prints. Made even more trips to home imporvement stores to pick out appliances and countless trips out here to pick finishes, oversee construction as well as make sure that all was going as planned. It was not easy but she did it. This was not something any of us were willing to leave a stranger to handle. She willingly agreed to take on the mammoth details that a project like this requires - all the while living 1000 miles away.
My husband and I joined my parents out here last week. We seem to always find our way out here to spend the 4th of July holiday together. We love the cheesy small town parade and all the kid friendly activities. The clean fresh air is a pleasant relief from the city lives we all live. We are still in awe of the mountain peaks that make up our front yard view as well as the safari we sometimes see on the road at anytime of the day. The healthy activities and all the time we spend outside in the pool or with nature are endless. Although we mimic a family friend in saying that this is a magical place...I think I agree with him now and it really is no joke. This place is paradise and that is how I felt about this home. I'm a homebody so I get attached to where I live. I was fortunate to even call this vacation home my primary residence for 5 years after grad school. That, of course was a lifetime ago.
This trip was the first time I had seen the "new and improved" version of our family retreat. It is incredible! My mom did an amazing job. My father and I find ourselves saying, "It's like a new house but it's the old house". That was exactly what we were going for. I have to say that it's nice to go to the bathroom and actually be able to close the door all the way. Especially with a toddler running around. The water pressure is a huge improvement. The furniture is mostly the same. Some of the more tired pieces have found new homes. The kitchen is the most drastic change. Although it is all glammed out, it still has a rustic and homey feel. I see a picture of my son and I at the same age in a similar field of wild flowers that donns the wall. Special materials have been salvaged for memories sake and used in different ways. I love all the new doors and the warmth of the heated floors in the cold morning. The fact that all the towels match is bizarre but kind of nice. I feel like the house got a face lift. It's the same soul on the inside but the exterior has been refreshed.
Thanks Mom...you and Dad have created a legacy for us to cherish for many many many more years to come.