MY MAMA’S HOUSE
I miss knowing the angle of the curve into my Mama’s driveway, signalling and swerving onto gravel and back through a tangle of trees.
I miss coming up the final curve of the driveway and honking my horn so everyone knows I’m there.
I miss the few moments of stillness where I turn my car off and get out to get Ari, as everyone makes their way to the back door. A dog barks, and again, and another joins in – someone appears at the family room window and the wooden door swings inward.
A dog bounds out, then another. Sometimes even another. A cat slips through and into the house.
I gather Ari and lift her over to the sidewalk, where she is enveloped by dog kisses and avoids swishing tails. Soon, someone has her up their hip to carry her into the house.
I miss warm hugs at the top step, how we can’t wait to get inside before hugging. All the rounds, greeting everyone. There is usually music on in the kitchen and it could be anything from classical violin to Erkyah Badu.
I miss the flowers on the table, and accessing where the meal assembly stands. I miss diving right in to help peel or chop or grate, or, ah – making Shaun do it instead.
I miss bottles of wine being opened, glasses being poured. The usual reminders of who wants red and who wants white. I miss a meal eaten haphazardly in the living room, plates balanced on knees, schooling the dogs to keep them from snitching food. I miss that feeling of no matter how old I grow, this house will always feel like home.
I miss the hushed, tense last few minutes before the appointed hour. This bizarre idea that maybe no one will come after all. And then – from the street, a car door slams.
A family sweeps in, we take coats or covered dishes or hold a baby, just so everyone can get in the door. We all hug, and then hug again. One by one and then very suddenly, the house is full. I miss how I agonized over what background music to put on – until the conversation swells and it doesn’t matter because we can barely hear the music at all.
I miss a buffet style potluck spread out from the stove to the sinks, a delightful hodgepodge of all the best snacks and cheeses and some variant of tacos or pizza. Just as before, first one by one, a few people make a plate – and then suddenly everyone’s trying to. I miss how we all try and serve our own kids and each other’s kids, all at once, all on top of each other.
I miss dinner spread out across the playroom, people sitting on wooden chairs and on the rug and perched on a child’s trampoline. I miss the tangled knot of children weaving in and out of their parents, grabbing attention or a bite when needed. I miss watching mamas nurse their babies and pat them to sleep among four different conversations.
I miss the fluidity of the evening, how some gather on the front porch with a beer, some in the kitchen. Eventually, to get the kids to calm down a little, the TV flicks on and we cram too many people on the couch and in the armchairs, and half-watch a movie we’ve all already seen too many times. I miss how we all try and pinpoint the moment just before the exhausted children break and dissolve into tears, how we all try and help each other pack the kids and the empty casserole dishes and the belated birthday or Christmas gifts out to the car. I miss how the house somehow feels a little empty after everyone leaves, how I feel breathless and exhausted from that concentrated period of so many people I love in one room.