“Mom, I think we need a new house,” said Oscar quite earnestly this week.
“Why do you think that?” I inquired, immediately starting to feel more than a little defensive about the 1900 Victorian cottage with which Don and I fell head over heels in love almost 15 years ago.
“Well, the stairs and floor creak and the walls aren’t smooth in lots of spots, and . . .” He continued to list our home’s ‘transgressions,’ if you will, as I sat in complete shock that anyone–least of all my son–could not see the charm and beauty of our (his!) home.
The stairs and floor do creak; and many of the horsehair plaster walls are rough in spots. And there is paint chipping here and there, and there are scratches and dents–some due to the house’s age and others to the exuberant presence of young children.
And I wouldn’t change a thing.
In terms of architecture and no less in life, Don and I have always sought the beauty in imperfections. This doesn’t, of course, mean that we allow our home to fall into disrepair or actively seek to mar it, but rather it is the bumps and bruises of life–of history–that most attracted us to this house. And it’s probably why–after several attempts to sell it as our family grew and we became convinced that it couldn’t accommodate us–it won’t let us go.
Oscar is young and still sees the world very much in black and white–literally and figuratively. But you can bet that as his parents we will tirelessly work to be sure he sees those shades of gray and appreciate the beauty in a slightly crooked smile, a weed growing in the middle of a manicured garden, and the bumpy walls and creaky stairs of a house that has sat on and survived this world for more than 100 years.
We live in a society that aspires to so-called perfection–airbrushed photos, disposable everything when it is the least bit used, and a beauty industry compelled to remove every last trace of wisdom off any face on the planet that can afford it.
I hope by growing up in an “old” and less-than-perfect house, Oscar, Edgar, and August will see the honor it is to reside in history, to reuse more than replace, and to embrace insead of fight the physical changes that come with age.
And me? Well, as the mother of too-soon-to-be three teenage sons, those creaky stairs are going to provide a great service to me . . . Nope, I wouldn’t change a thing!