Tag Archives: home

LOSS


loss n. the state or feeling of grief when deprived of someone or something of value

ImageEnjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

– Robert Brault

I can’t walk in the house these days without feeling a little bit like a stranger. Each night when I drive home I bite my tongue before I tell Graham that we’re headed home to her. When we walk in the door, there is no one there to greet us, no one there to be happy that we made it through the whole day successfully. No train delays or daycare biting incidents. We take our victory lap at the place we call home.

The red sofa is empty and you can see how ruined the leather is from years of hound sweat. That same sofa we were so proud of when we bought it to be the centerpiece of the living room in our first house 10 years ago in Rhode Island.  We would find her on laying on it as a puppy and would shoo her off only to find her there again soon after. I remember the day we finally gave up telling her to shoo because she looked so happy sleeping there. Now there’s just a mark, an indent where she used to lay. The sofa feels out of place without her on it and the spit stain she used to leave on the French door is still there just because I can’t bear to wipe away a part of her.   

We always complained about the dog hair tumbleweeds that littered our home, reminiscing of a time 10 years ago when our house was so clean, but dog less. We’d talk about how we’d rather have her than a clean house and then would hint at a day long into the future when the dog hair would be gone, not knowing that that time would be approaching much sooner than we ever wanted. We didn’t realize that all of the food that we dropped would litter our floor instead and that each time we had to stoop and pick it up instead of calling her name would remind us of her absence.

There were so many times she was there when no one else was. The nights when I was all alone in a tiny apartment while Dan was traveling and she filled his empty space in the bed. The times when things were rough and crying was all I could do. She was always the silent shoulder of support who would lick away my tears and stay by my side until I fell asleep. When I quit my job to stay home and care for my newborn son in a lonesome new town, she was my only companion and friend. Sometimes the only thing that got me through the day was the comfort of having her familiar and peaceful presence.

I’ve come to believe that the level at which loss manifests itself in your life is inversely proportional to how much you loved the one you lost. My life is like a curio box, a sort of frame work that is filled with all of the little moments and insignificant things I collect that eventually add up to the story that is me.  These little things are tediously important in ways I don’t understand and I sometimes forget how essential some of them are to my happiness and hope. Sometimes I change them or replace them when I feel the need to. But when I lose one or many unexpectedly, they are not replaced easily or in short order. The light shines through to mark the emptiness that asks to be repaired so that the story will make sense again and I am only armed with memories and time to begin the work.

 

 

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home


home n. the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

boyer_family_old_01

I am often frustrated with my surroundings…especially when it comes to the place where I live; the place that I call home. When I lived in my childhood town of Teaneck, N.J., I wanted desperately to leave to go to school in Rhode Island. Providence was the place where my dreams were waiting for me. For the most part, this was true. Independence, my husband, my dog, my first real house – all of these things began, fittingly in a place called Providence. But after many a harsh winter and a dwindling economy without career growth in site it lost it’s luster and Brooklyn was where I was bound. Brooklyn – with it’s too small apartments and hipster neighbors. The flash and fury and life outside my door was home for a time. Yet after years of being stuck in subway tunnels and walking past piles of sewage smelling garbage, I ended up full circle back in Jersey with an expansive yard and looming maples – the picture perfect version of what every person thinks they want. Now I stand in my quaint, eclectic home with my husband of 10 years, 2 year old son, 9 year old dog, piles of things I have collected and made in order to call this house, this place a “home”…and yet I am still not sure that it is. My past homes beckon and the unknown future homes tempt…often. When I think about where I am right now, I don’t want to be here 10 years from now (good thing my husband agrees.) I used to think it was the places that I lived that made me bored and tired, yearning for change, but now I think I have a different definition of the word home than the sage and wise, old OED. Home is not just a “permanent place” – it is many things…

 “Hot and heavy pumpkin pie
Chocolate candy Jesus Christ
Ain’t nothing please me more than you”

Perhaps it is my Italian heritage and upbringing, but home involves a combination of good food and people I love. One cannot exist without the other. Home is a sensory experience – the smell meatballs roasting in the over, musty old books on the shelf, the cadence of voices echoing off of the walls during a quiet night. The clanking of the heat in the winter and rain storms battling the glass of the skylights. My home is also filled with the people I love and the good and bad memories we make within the confines of our walls. It’s the times when the baby was sick and we spent the whole weekend in the family room playing with Duplos despite the beautiful Spring weather. The special occasions and family parties that bowed out the walls with people. Or just the evenings curled up on the faded leather sofa with the dog, some cheese and a few glasses (or bottles) of wine. These moments and sensory experiences don’t happen because I live in a 3 bedroom bungalow. They happen because we are home.

“I saw the streets all ripe with jewels
Balconies and the laundry lines
They tried to make me welcome there
But their streets did not feel like mine”

Just like every other 25 – 65 year old with some extra cash and living in the tri state area – I love to travel. I won’t bore you with my impressive list of cities and countries or tell you how I reminisce over the intricate ceramic tiles of Lisbon over glasses of Fonseca Tawny. That would be annoying, not about “home”, and just like every other New Yorker you know.  I love to travel because it makes me leave my home. It makes me appreciate how fortunate I am on a daily basis. In some ways, the places I travel to feel a little like home in a few days, but never fully the way it feels when I actually am home. I’ve walked down countless cobbled streets and fallen in love with too many European alleyways. During my travels, I often daydream about what it would be like to make some of these new places my home, always leaving out the actual toil and strife that would ensue if we ever did make that decision. Because the grass is always so much greener and my brain seems to leave out the memories of how much work went into where I have ended up. In the end, I always look forward to being back; returning to hugs and familiar smells, dirty floors and dog hair squalls. The good and the bad that make up the everyday that I take for granted so often.

I suppose the word “permanence” is important when defining the word home. The fact that I can count on all of the things I return to and leave from every morning and night still being there at -my will – as long as I can get there – even if only in my memories. When you speak with someone about home, they often go back to their childhood or a time in their life, a memory or feeling they had that creates their definition of home. I remember my father speaking fondly of growing up in Manhattan and my mother lovingly of her childhood home in Leonia, NJ. The stories were rich and filled with countless memories and stories. Home is permanent in that we can remember it forever. It is not the city, the edifice or the bric-a-brac that make a place a home. Home is the stage, a diorama for our minds –  set for memories to be made. Our permanent and portable journal that inspires us, challenges us, forces us to leave and come back, teaches us how to love.

It’s where I want to be.

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sponsalia


sponsalia noun engagement or marriage

 

When I was married, we had no money so I bought a dress on sale at David’s Bridal for $500 – including all of the crap that goes with it – and my sister in law did my hair. I bought the minimal flowers – daisies – a few bouquets and boutoniers from a flower shop just because I liked it’s name – “Consider the Lilies.” I found a photographer who taught at RISD part time and hired him on the cheap along with disposable cameras on the tables. We chose a wonderful old gothic church that didn’t need decoration and rented an old mansion called the Arcade in Roger Williams Park Zoo for the reception. When the rain poured down that day, we still had outdoor photos on the deck and micro brewed beer from Trinity Brewhouse, who catered for us. We hired our favorite live jazz band from the Custom House in Providence for music and everyone danced and even sang on stage. The day for us was a celebration of who we were together and all of the things we loved and shared in the place that we met and called home. It wasn’t about looking like a model in my photos or 2 inch thick paper stock invitations embossed with our signature logo. We didn’t prance through corn fields holding hands in the sun beams or stare into each others eyes under the Brooklyn Bridge at dusk for engagement photos either. We had no money so we had to be creative, and I am very happy for that..

The marketing of marriage is constantly thrust upon me, whether it is in magazines or Facebook, and I find it truly hilarious. I especially love looking at the glamour shot engagement photos. Everyone has the same shot in Grand Central and Central Park – you know you’ve seen it too. I would think the last thing I would want is a photo that looks just like everyone else’s – but alas, when I used to work at “the Blue Box” people traded bridal photographers like Garbage Pail Kids. I think it may be a status symbol here in the Big Apple, oddly enough.

And the dresses. My office used to be across from the famous Amsale on 5th Avenue so many of the girls I worked with would purchase dresses there for their big day. My poor little Gloria Vanderbilt whose lace hem I thought was so pretty and understated looks like some sad schmata compared to the runway Moniques and Veras I have seen, but I loved it nonetheless. It’s absurd that there are entire television programs devoted to wedding dresses – more than one! The Lifetime network probably has 3 alone. Women in New York also trample each other for off priced Vera Wangs on a certain day of the year. I’ve seen it on the evening news.

If I could do it all again and if I actually had some cash this time, I wouldn’t really change anything about our day. Maybe I would have nicer flowers or more champagne, but we created our own day and I haven’t been to a wedding like it before or since. When I look at our photos I don’t relish how perfect the lighting or staging is, I just marvel at how young and happy we looked. It’s been almost ten years, 2 houses, 1 dog and a baby later. We have wrinkles, have lost some hair and gained a few pounds. So maybe I didn’t look like the most awesome princess in the universe on my wedding day. I have never been one to want that in the first place. I can gladly say that as great as my wedding day was, my marriage has been far greater. I’d rather have incredible photos of each other from all of the places we have travelled then some schlocky picture post card I can send so people think I’m in love.

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