Sunday, June 2, 2013

This Old House

Our house has been in Matt's mom's family all along, since it was built back in 1928 or possibly 1932 going by the county archives.  Before it was the family farm, it was part of a small town, it and the area to the east of here.  Now all that's left are the outlines of buildings in daffodils in the spring, the occasional bit of farm machinery that pops up from the soil, a couple of old buildings, a well and the remnants of the road that once was the main way to get through the area.

From what I can gather, there have been a few deaths in the house, but nothing violent.  There does not seem to be anything malicious lingering...except if there are no children in the house.  You'd think after 16 years, 9+ living IN this house, that whatever energy is in the house would at least be used to me by now.  I am a good mom.  There's not much conflict around here, no negative energy to speak of.

So, why do I only feel anything is off when the kids are not in the house?  I've spent...well, not much time at all thinking about it.  I am so rarely alone.  That used to bother me, mostly because I have so much fun out with the kids, why won't Matt take them places more often and give them memories of him?  Now I see the bright white tunnel opening so clearly ahead, I don't mind a bit spending all my time with the kids.  In another 4.5 years, they will all be adults.  Shit.  That's soon.  Ben's half birthday was yesterday.  Waa

I don't think there's any 'thing' here, a ghost or presence, but I do think the house likes kids and the house likes being clean.  I can't go anywhere without cleaning something, it's gone from compulsion to outright habit.  I change out laundry or wash the dishes, run out the trash, sweep, wipe down the counter or a sink, I even scrub the toilet a good time or two when all I was going to do was restock the towels.  The only thing I don't do regularly is mop.  I hate mopping.  No even a disembodied voice moaning, "maaaaahhhhhp!" would get me interested, I think we have reached a comprise.

All the way around the yard, it's dark.  In the height of summer growth, like now,
it can feel like there's no light anywhere else.
When we first moved in, before everything else in the house was boxed up or moved out, there was a stack of boxed games in the front closet.  Every time I went in that room, for days, the Ouija board game would have slid off the stack and be either on the floor or tipped over sideways with the top of the box showing.  I had grown up with the fear of God in me and not only could I not open it up to play around with it, I had to use a broom or an oven mitt to shove it back in place.  hahaha.  I have often wished I had taken a peek, seen if there was a message.  Though, it would probably be something like D-U-S-T M-O-R-E and not 'there's gold under the wood stove'.  *sigh*

I have had 2 'incidents' in the house that friends love to hear us retell, though Matt was not here for either, he jumps right in if I slow down at all.  hahaha.  I will record them now for posterity.

When Jake was 2, Matt's mom bought him a Blue's Clues ice cream cake and we had cake up here to celebrate.  This was when Matt and I lived in a single wide down the road and his parents were still marriedish or had just divorced.  I know I was pregnant with Chan for the house incident and the divorce because after Matt's dad told him they were divorcing, Matt climbed into the tub where I was lounging and reading as Jake napped, still wearing all his clothes.  I held him and he cried until the water went cold and then some.

So a couple of days later, Jake wanted more 'eye-keen' cake, so I came up here to get it out of the freezer.  No one was here, and I came in through the back door, parking my little car right behind the house and leaving Jake in the backseat while I ran in through the back porch and got it from the freezer just inside the kitchen.  It was later afternoon, maybe 3ish (mid-November).  The kitchen had plenty of light, but the doorway going in to the rest of the house was pitch black, I thought there was actually a black blanket hanging there. 

I heard something...I'd like to be scary and say it was a voice saying 'get...out...' but it wasn't that organized.  But it did scare the crap out of me.  Now keep in mind, I was 6 months pregnant and up there to get a cake that I had full permission to take.  I was thinking about eating nummies with the boy and not feeling the slightest bit uncomfortable or thinking anything was even remotely wrong until I saw the doorway. 

I slammed the freezer door and ran across the back porch, which is maybe 3 steps, but I swear, I must have run 20, the whole time feeling like I was about to be grabbed.  I slammed the back door and turned the key and flew into the car, tossing the cake in the front seat and cranking the engine.  Jake was standing in the backseat (mom of the year!) and he turned around and looked out the back window as we drove.  I made a circle out into the pasture and went back out the access road to the gravel road and and Jake said, "Go faster, Mommy, FASTER!"  I hit our driveway (in the photo with the mailbox, it's the road going off to the left, I did not have him unbuckled on a main road) going 20 MPH, which is about 18 MPH more than I should have.  We zipped down the drive and Jake screamed, "It sees us!  GO FASTER!"

I flew into the house and locked the door (nothing says ghost-proof like a trailer lock!) and ran for my room and we hid out in there until Matt came home.  I was too scared to go to the bathroom, convinced I would see its face peering down from the skylight. 

Now, also keep in mind that when I jumped in the car, I did not say anything to my 2-year old child about something chasing me.  I am pretty open and share most things with the kids and always have, but scaring a toddler is not my thing.  Any other little kid would think I was playing a game, like I did not want the cake to melt and was hurrying to be silly or that maybe I was angry or maybe I had to use the bathroom or otherwise wanted to get home as fast as possible.  He loved Barney and Goodnight Moon and Pat the Bunny.  Nowhere in his life had he come across anything scarier than Oscar the Grouch or maybe me.  I mean, I was pregnant-the hormones made me psychotic at times. I did not start watching scary movies with him until he was much older, we did not even have a TV at that point-or a computer.  So his reaction made it about 100% worse.

The other time was, well, actually before that one.  Matt was at work, he worked nights, and I stayed here alone with Jake one time.  It was the first time I had spent more than a couple hours over here, I was going to sleep in his room, I think we were going somewhere the next morning, I can't really remember why I was here.  Jake was about 15 months old.  I was on the phone with Matt, it was around 2 in the morning and we both heard a scream, I mean a blood-curdling scream that I could not tell if it came from inside or outside or WHAT it was.  It sounded like a panther or a woman being ripped in half, it was LOUD and totally out of nowhere.  It woke Jake up.  Matt worked 45 minutes away, but he pulled up 20 minutes later.  He had not even clocked out.  Neither of us slept.  I have not heard it, or anything even close to it, again.

And that's it.  Stuff happens in here all the time.  Things go missing and pop up where they have no business being.  It's not like thinking the keys are hanging by the door and finding them in yesterday's jeans pocket instead, it's thinking the keys are hanging by the door and finding them-after MUCH searching-under the hood sitting neatly on the engine block.

I still don't think there's a ghost of anyone in particular.  I don't think the house is evil or that there's 'something' out there or in here.  I think it's an 80+ year old house that has seen a LOT of one family through those years and has absorbed some of that history into the walls and floors.  It likes being lived in, I think it was throwing a pout when it was empty, it acted up to get some attention.  It likes having the energy of kids, the thud of feet and the warmth of people in every room, it likes to be useful.  I think when the kids are grown and Matt and I end up elsewhere and the house is empty again, it will fall in on itself in less than a decade.  It wants family.

I have always thought of it as the 'homeless house', people who needed a place to stay were always showing up here, even now, as small and shabby as it is compared to houses of friends that have been built much more recently, the kids friends prefer to come here to hang out.  I host the gatherings, when I took a break this year, no one else picked it up.  They are all waiting for me to send out the next invitation, I reckon.  Every family (and many of our friends) milestone has been celebrated under this sometimes leaky roof.  So many candle-lit cakes, so many laughing women and excited kids, so many meals with friends and hundreds of ordinary days spent curled up somewhere reading or watching a movie, being together. 

I don't think of it as the homeless house anymore, it's just home.  I don't mind that it worries and frets and acts up at times, I love this house.  I think it loves me back.  And even if it doesn't, I will still do my best to keep it happy and keep it humming and tidy while we are here.  And I hope it will still forgive my lack of regular mopping or the fact that the front porch has been a different color for nearly 3 years now.

About Me

Unschooling mama from the start with 2014, 2016 and 2018 graduation dates. I enjoy camping, reading, swimming, hiking and photography.