The kitchen feels like my mom. I want to sit at this table – that my grandfather made – and drink the coffee that my mom got up so early in the morning to drink, before the rest of the house awoke.
My table is covered in a batik print tablecloth, all ecru and browns. Green potted plants sit on top – one weeping fig and one mystery plant with a crooked stem. A yellow primula and one periwinkle pansy grace the foot of the table-top grandfather clock that, ironically, my grandfather made, and which also sits on my table. It used to reside in my grandparents’ Corvallis living room, but now it faces me like a friend, waving its pendulum in greeting. A glass globe with blue, red and yellow swirls nestles its crown. And lastly, hugging the flowers, are two recycled glass candlesticks from Spain, awaiting tapers of beeswax.
This room feels like my mom, because the winter grey light hovers around me from three different windows – shining love on me. Shining is too brilliant a word for winter sun, when the skies are steel. The light is more … pensive and nostalgic. It meanders in and touches your cheek and rubs against your calf, like a cat. Or a Pitbull mixed breed that thinks he’s a cat.
It’s there, just enough, to light up the colored glass bottles on the windowsills.
I have ants in my kitchen. They are only occasional visitors and parade in and out of my sink. And one time into the nearest cupboard when they discovered leftover Solstice candy canes and a not-air-tight canister of raisins. But they are gone today.
Ants don’t remind me of my mother. But unloading the dishwasher while the coffee brews does. And chopping kindling for my wood stove reminds me of my dad.
Maybe my house reminds me of my parents because I am now a parent myself. A responsible home caretaker. I fold clothes while I watch a movie (granted it’s a Bollywood film instead of a Lifetime Channel made for TV movie), and I make my kids do chores and bathe at least twice a week despite strong outbursts.
But I’ve been in many houses before.
And none of them had a kitchen that felt like my mother.
And none of them felt as much like me as this one does. Which is odd.
Other homes I haven’t been single in. Maybe that’s it. Except the one in Albany. I was single in that one, too. And that one felt like me.
But not the way this house does.
This house does not have a deed somewhere with my name on it.
I’m only renting.
This place holds me.
I dance to Spotify on my hardwood floors. I light incense every morning and nod to Ganesh. I tamp down the fire before I leave the house. I walk the dogs around the block before I go to work. And I clean the rabbit cage on the weekends.
I sit at my Goodwill collection dining room chairs and write out morning pages with chai or coffee. I transfer wet laundry to the dryer with the loud drum. And I turn the heat lamp on when I shower. I eat instant oatmeal with pecans and bananas and admire the prayer flags over the square “arch”way into the living room where the dogs lay in front of the fire. And I sit at my great-grandmother’s vanity table to pick out the bangles and clip-on earrings I will wear to work today.
I don’t know what it is about my house. But I’m so grateful to be in this soul satisfying space.
“My house is me, and I am it, and it looks like all my dreams.” (Borrowed from Daniel Pinkwater in The Big Orange Splot.)