I live in a neighborhood filled with vast and varied dwellings. It’s quite a blend of old meets new, and I’ve come to realize, there’ a different style of house and garden to suit every kind of personal taste.
My husband and I rent a small home that has a beautiful energy. We felt this from the 1st time we came to see it. We believe the energy was instilled by the owners who are kind, loving, compassionate and generous people. They raised their children and created many meaningful memories here as a family.
In the last few years, we’ve noticed our neighborhood is changing. Though we have some delightful, friendly neighbors who’ve been here since we moved in over 12 years ago, a few of the newer ones keep to themselves. They don’t meet my glance, or return the “hello” I extend as the dog and I walk past them on our daily stroll. We also notice many of the new houses going up are beginning to look like clones of one another.
When I’m out on my daily walks, I love to property gaze. I often wonder or try to imagine who lives behind some of the gates and blinds that appear to be closed so much of the time. Are there happy families inside, people living alone, children having fun…couples with dreams of starting a family and building a life?
Are these houses or are they homes…and what is the real difference between the two?
There is a quote from one of my favorite movies, “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Diane Lane’s character is remodeling both her life and the Italian Villa she bought in Tuscany. At one point she says “What are 4 walls anyway? They are what they contain…the House protects the Dreamer”. There’s always been something about this line I have loved.
A few months ago my siblings and I got the opportunity to share a very special reunion in our birthplace of Winnipeg. On our last morning together, we decided to take a quick drive to our old childhood house. We had not been there since leaving it some 50 years prior. Let’s just say the old house did not represent the greatest of memories for any of us. Last time we were all together there, it was a turbulent and painful time when our family became divided.
Yet for some reason, we all felt a need to see it. I’m not sure what any of us expected really…but I believe there was a strength in our togetherness that played a part in the strong current that was pulling us there.
As we arrived at the familiar address, we were more than amazed by what we saw. Our old house (pictured here) was no longer an old house at all. What stood before us was a structure that was bright, fresh, new…bearing no resemblance to what it once was.
My brother knocked on the door, but no one answered.
So we stood outside on that beautiful, sunny Sunday morning, took some photographs and chatted with the nice people who had lived beside our old place for 35 years. They had seen many occupants come and go, but told us the house was now owned by a lovely young couple with a new baby.
Just as we were about to leave, the front door opened and out they came. We shared our story of not being back in 50 years, and they graciously invited us in to have a quick look.
We stepped inside to see a tasteful, very comfortably decorated space. The walls were filled with beautiful photographs and meaningful momentos. The old kitchen from the 60’s was now modern with state of the art appliances. The basement was smaller than I remembered, but was cozy, filled with books and baby toys. We could all feel how this was a very happy space. It was warm, cared for and clearly filled with an abundance of love.
We wandered through the rooms and had some laughs revisiting memories (like my brother playing bartender at age 10 in our Dad’s bar in the basement).
As we headed back upstairs to leave, I spotted a print hanging on the wall that said “Love Makes Our House a Home”. I couldn’t hold back my tears, for there it was right in front of me…
A house may contain many things, but a home carries your heart. It’s the emotion, the sense of safety and belonging you feel there…the dreams you bring and most importantly, the LOVE you inject into your house that will turn it into a home.
What we had just walked into…was worlds apart from what we had walked out of all those many years ago.
We expressed our gratitude, then said our goodbyes knowing a beautiful life was going to be lived here, filled with everything a family is supposed to have.
My siblings and I had to go our separate ways after that visit. Each of us were headed back to our own lives in our own cities…not knowing when we may all be together again. We were filled with so much gratitude for our weekend together and the remarkable reconnection we’d shared.
Though we never said it out loud, I believe each us felt somewhat healed by that visit to the old house. When we think of it now, it’s with happiness and a wonderful sense of comfort, knowing that after all these many years…
Our House had finally become a Home.
For today friends…this is The World as Eye See it