Monday, August 01, 2011


It's been just over ten years since I moved out of my parents' house to attend school, and just over four years since I stopped coming back over the summer breaks to work at the historic site.

Every time I come home, it seems like something changes a little bit more, and it becomes less and less home and more and more my parents' house.

Over the last two years, my parents have replaced all of the windows and doors. The new door in the front hall has a much bigger pane of glass in it; it lets in so much more light now that, for the first few times I was home, I kept going into the hallway to close the door because I thought it was open. We also used to have an old church pew as a bench in the hallway, but it's gone now.

The living room has had its carpet torn out and replaced by a beautiful auburn hardwood floor. Less than a year ago, my parents finally threw out the camel brown velour couch they bought shortly after they were married (in 1977) and replaced it as well. Now there's a new couch and a fancy La-Z-Boy that's more comfortable than most beds I've slept in; there's a vintage crystal chandelier and beautifully framed art prints.

The biggest change is the kitchen, which my dad gutted completely. Gone are the cheap cupboards and drawers of my childhood. Now I have no idea where anything is (to be fair, the redesigned kitchen is sufficiently awesome that the increase in storage space means that no one knows where anything is anymore). The appliances are fancy (the convection oven in particular) and the granite countertop is a thing of dreams. Our big kitchen table (scarred by years of less than careful activity) is long gone; there is a tiny table with two chairs just for my parents.

One of the hardest things about growing old for me is not that I don't need my parents, but that they don't need me.

Don't get me wrong: I don't begrudge them this beautiful space that they're building together. My parents have been together for 40 years this year (married for 34 of them) and I'm old enough now to see that their life together hasn't always been easy or simple. It's more just that every change makes this place more unheimliche (unhomely), familiar but also strange. And eventually it isn't going to be my home any more, for real.

Though I have to admit that on these 30+ degree days, I am grateful that they broke down and put in central air conditioning when they replaced the furnace.


Sparky said...

The home I grew up in became "my parent's house" when they converted my room into the nursery for my niece. My bedroom was no more, my closet no longer contained my seasonal clothes, my "storage" got shipped out, and now when I visit, I sleep on the couch.

Actually, same thing happened this weekend... our family cottage became "my parent's cottage", and Mom asked permission to redecorate my old room for my niece.

I don't resent it either, it was a necessity, and I'm glad it turned into a useful room rather than some kind of home-gym. But it does still sting a little.

fineskylark said...

My room is a junk room-slash-guest room, so I still get to sleep there, but it's been redecorated and has a different bed, so it doesn't feel like mine.