The response has been startling. I have talked to many of my friends about what their houses mean to them. My women friends have fierce ideas about house and home. It seems to me that women view houses from three perspectives: the DREAM, the HEADQUARTERS, and the HAVEN. In order to incorporate the wonderful thoughts of my friends, I have chosen one fictional representative of each perspective:
Women who don’t have houses of their own dream of them. Some women never achieve their fondest hope for a home for their families. Some are too poor, some too young, and some too unlucky. Among those women I know who dream of owning a home of their own is one I call Deb. Deb comes from a poor family. She grew up in an Appalachian region where work was scarce, men who earned good money were scarcer, and the most one could hope for in life was a double wide trailer and a paycheck. Deb dreams of someday having a real house made of brick. She thinks about it while mopping counters at the coffee shop where she hustles tips. In her mind, the ultimate, shining possession would be that brick house with a front porch.
Marty is a go-getter. She had her own business for years. She made quite a bit of money, and then got married to a good guy who wanted kids. With three active boys under the age of 12 and a baby on the way, Marty organizes her life within an INCH. Her house is “activity central,” and she has everything under control. Each child has a locker in the mudroom. There are baskets in each bedroom labeled “Schoolbooks,” “Soft Toys,” “Toys With Little Pieces,” and “Pieces of Little Toys.” There is a calendar of events posted on the refrigerator. Marty and the kids are ever loading themselves, other people’s children, and mounds of sporting equipment into the car and driving away. If you asked Marty what color her powder room is painted, she would most likely hazard a vague guess.
Beth is retired from working. Her children are raised, and she is satisfied with the result. She now has all sorts of time on her hands that was never there before. One day, Beth looked around and sized up her home. Like a whirlwind, Beth began to make changes. She cleaned out the attic, and gave the children their toys and books back. She got rid of all the camping equipment in the basement. She threw away the items that she thought she might put into a garage sale someday. She painted rooms. She rearranged, and even bought a brand new and comfortable sofa for the family room. She went antiquing. And she washed the windows. Then she twirled around, looked at everything with great satisfaction, and settled down to enjoy the lovely surroundings she had created. With no time pressures and the rest of her life before her, she was filled with delight and the realization that now she didn’t need to go someplace else for a “vacation.” Her house was her haven. Beth and I have a lot of girlfriends just like us.
I have had the dream, presided very efficiently at headquarters, but now I hurry back to the haven of the home I have always wanted. Thank you, all my friends, for helping me write this one!