Christine Allison On What Makes A House A Home

Christine Allison says goodbye to a home.

Dear Reader
A House, A Home

On a quiet road called Aran Hill in Fairfield, Conn., sits a handsome two-story Colonial. The house is set on a rise, so it has a peculiar dignity, even though it is one of the simpler houses on the block. I don’t know the couple who lives there, though I understand they have a toddler and a baby. He owns a number of Subway franchises in the area; I’m not sure if she works outside of the house or not. They moved in a few weeks after my mother moved out.

I went home for one last visit, to say goodbye to Aran Hill. I wanted to memorize the smell of my father’s basement and run my hand in the pool water that always sparkled because we were obsessed with its pH. By the time I got there, my mother had given away the organ that no one had ever played but that we kept because we had paid good money for it. Somebody had moved the stringy-haired doll from the upstairs landing, where for more than a decade it was on time-out, facing the corner, a joke that got funnier as the years went by. My brother, Tom, had spent a year preparing the house to sell. In some ways, it was unrecognizable. He remodeled the powder room, removing the peeling, sepia-colored wallpaper that used to scare the grandchildren, and covered the walls with two fresh coats of linen white. He pulled up the carpeting and had the wood floors refinished. The fading print curtains in the library had been replaced with tasteful sheers. No wonder it sold on the first day.

When my father died two years ago, we all knew the day would come when my mother would have to leave Aran Hill. We knew that one morning hundreds of real estate agents would swarm the property, grab brochures that showed our house pretty and sanitized, and that this place where for 33 years my mother and father cooked thousands of meals, pulled acres of weeds, shoveled mountains of snow, worried about their children, and delighted in their grandchildren, this place where two random people bickered and loved and wept and laughed, would suddenly be reduced to a listing: 5/3, two-car garage, fireplaces, swimming pool, beautiful grounds, updated kitchen. We tried to be philosophical. It’s people, not things that matter. But a house is not merely a thing. I should have known better. I should not have been surprised by the tears that would not stop as I pulled out of the driveway for the last time.

Have a blessed holiday.


Christine Allison
Editor and Publisher
[email protected]


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