Little White Houses

Little white houses, the ones you drive past traveling through the Midwest. Little white houses with more paint chipped and fallen to the ground than hanging to the house. Little white houses surrounded by overgrown trees and thick and tall grasses.

Sometimes the shutters are barely hanging on and window panes have long been missing. Sometimes they sit abandoned with a collapsed front porch or a roof that has caved in.

Once in while there is a window air-conditioner and a car parked in a gravel driveway that makes you think someone lives there still.

Sometimes I imagine the life that was there.

Sometimes, I don’t imagine, I remember. I remember the little white house that existed in my life and still exists in the deepest grooves of my heart. It was torn down several years ago and if you were to drive the overpass that used to look over the house and it’s yard, you would never know the happy house that existed.

But when it was there it was magical, sitting on a corner lot across from train tracks on one side and an empty lot on another. A yard and neighboring houses taking up the other two sides.

If you were to peer through the window on any given afternoon you would see an old widow. She lived alone, yet was nearly always surrounded by children. Sometimes there were one or two and sometimes there might be 20 kids with her.

It was loud and boisterous. There was almost always a card game, when she shuffled she would say, “shuffle, oh the buffalo,” unless, it were time for her shows. If the weather was nice she was rocking on the back porch watching the kids play. A peanut butter sandwich was always readily available.

Even as night approached and the babysitting kids should have gone home, there would be two sibling sets that remained. One forgotten and another that had begged and pleaded their way into a sleepover. Those kids laughed and loved and snuck extra hours of life late into the night.

In this little white house there was dancing and pretend weddings. There were long lasting games of red light, green light and sometimes walks across an empty lot to buy ice-cream cones from Kipp’s.

I love plain, little white houses. I’ve imagined myself as an old woman living in a little white house.

Spending so much time in that house, I learned about simple joys. I learned that what makes you happiest is the people around you, not the things.

The little white house of my heart was a two bedroom house without central air or heat. Clothes were dried draped over the stove in the dining room; the dining room complete with a small valley in the floor showing the most loved path through the middle of the house. There was no basement.

But in that house I had everything I needed. My sisters were there and hugs and love.

I learned that crayons color just as good on the back of old paper restaurant place mats as they do in brand new coloring books. I learned an extra bedroom and a pull out couch was enough room for all your best friends and sisters to stay up and laugh all night. In that house, I learned simplicity.

And when I forgot and life threw heart wrenching surprises at me, proving how valuable time with the ones you love is; that little white house was still with me. Now my children get to know those little white house lessons through me. Simplicity is magical and my children are loving that magic.

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