960 Square Feet

Slice of Life Writing Challenge- March 28, 2021

I watched you walking past with your dog this morning from the living room window. All of us wondering if you’re happier now. You left abruptly which was so out of character for you – the thinker, the planner, the organized one. Twenty-one days seemed like a hasty decision to just get up and go.

We understand it felt crowded like you were on top of each other once another came along. You tried your best to contain all the toys and books in baskets, but by bedtime, they were scattered around as if popcorn had blasted out of a popper. The two of you routinely tidied up all the kid clutter each evening before falling into bed exhausted.

I remember the way you expertly handled the blow dryer to heat seal the edges of the very same window I spotted you from earlier. Perfectly shrink- wrapped so the winter winds couldn’t find their way inside. The same window that looked out upon our “ Mother’s Day” tree. She blossomed for years at precisely the right time to earn her name. I can still hear the B52s belting out Love Shack while you vacuumed one-handed with Oldest on your hip. The marks in the carpet underneath the rocking chair were unable to be vacuumed back to life after hours of rocking back and forth.

When the tornado sirens wailed, you’d gather up grandma’s quilts to line the bath tub since there wasn’t a basement. I stood strong in the interior, prepared to protect as you sat in the tub reading and playing Uno by flashlight.

The country blue kitchen decorated with country goose decor was truly the heart of your home. The over-your-budget solid oak pedestal table was the first purchase delivered and it became the gathering place for your family meals, holiday celebrations, lesson plans, homework sessions, craft projects, and everything else you needed it to be–a baby seat holder, a sewing station, and a salsa prep center. I don’t think I ever saw you make salsa again after that time the jars dropped and exploded the salsa from floor to ceiling fan and everywhere in between like the mini blinds. That was an unfortunate event. Frosting and decorating Christmas cookies were much happier times.

You never did get closet doors in your bedroom, which wouldn’t have shut anyway. Storage was the constant challenge. I noticed the frequent trips to Goodwill when things didn’t make the cut and get stored in the garage attic. There wasn’t a need for a baby monitor at night when the crying was only ten steps down the hall to Youngest’s room where we watched you, eight months pregnant, uncomfortably squatting to adhere blue plaid wallpaper. You created cozy kid spaces for both of them. The butter-yellow bedroom facing the morning light was Oldest’s happy place until the day Youngest touched the hot lightbulb on the bedside table resulting in third-degree burns.

It was tight quarters once Youngest learned to crawl his unique sidewinder crawl, so you all spent a lot of time outdoors in the spacious yard with plenty of room for a garden, kiddie pool, and campfire pit. Your husband built a playground set where you spent hours in the sandbox with army guys, Matchbox cars, and nature embellished mudpies.

For ten years, we housed your memories and admittedly anticipated your departure. We don’t hold it against you because we accepted our limitations. We were a starting place, a beginning, a threshold, keeping you safely tucked inside until we no longer could.

All of us, all 960 square feet of us, have embraced the new occupants and can see the walls closing in as their family grows. We are left wondering how many days until we bid farewell to them, again a temporary address.

Our “Mother’s Day” Tree

Published by Patty Nault

Retired elementary teacher with a passion for reading, writing, and living a life full of curiosity. "Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder." -E.B. White

5 thoughts on “960 Square Feet

  1. This made me think of our first house. If it was able to talk, I’m not sure it would miss us. It was a dysfunctional relationship. 5 feet of water in the basement and leaks from the ceiling. And, to be honest, we were still in our 20’s and there were parties…This was a great post- loved the perspective and the memories you shared.

  2. Every time I visit a town where I used to live I drive past my old houses. I like to check in and see what’s happening. Usually they look just like they did when I left (except one house! The new owners didn’t like the way it was situated on the property so they had it picked up and rotated! It’s so weird to go past it.)

    1. That’s just crazy! Wouldn’t you like to know what went into such an expensive decision? My childhood homes also looks exactly the same. It’s the surrounding neighborhood that has changed.

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