Friday, January 28, 2011

My House

My house was built in 1964. Unlike the home portrayed, it is a small structure with a third of an acre of land, a pond I put in, a free-standing two-car garage and a crumbling concrete driveway. Its first owner paid $24,000 for it. I paid substantially more many years later, and have never regretted it.
My house talks to me almost all the time. It’s a chatterbox of a home that loves to whisper, and at any given moment can tell me how it’s doing. There are purrs, creaks, whistles, the occasional thumping and whirring, the scratching of squirrels on the roof and the scrapping of branches against the eaves. Sometimes there are soft sighs, and more rarely powerful and strange rumbles and the rattling of window.
The washer, an ancient Maytag, thumps like a wheel with a flat spot whenever it hits the rinse cycle while the fluorescents in the laundry room hum. The furnace motor that pushes masses of hot or cold air depending on the season has a voice of its own. It clicks, engages, revs and relaxes a hundred times a day and  at times the vents whistle shrilly. The sink in the kitchen makes a strange slurping noise as it empties but the one in the laundry room with its huge drain emits at best a quiet gurgle. Both toilets have voices too. The old one in the basement is slow and stately, the one upstairs near the bedroom is often recalcitrant if not downright unfriendly.
The cat knows to scratch at the kitchen door when it wants in but will sit by the kitchen window quietly purring with expectancy when he wants to be in the yard.
In the basement is a room where I play and record music, sometimes alone, other times with friends. This space has its own discreet cacophony. The Peavey single-speaker amps hum despite years of trying to establish a solid ground, and the big Fender monitor speakers are masters of the hiss. I have tried everything to make the room quieter—better cabling, attenuators, padding—to no avail and now I consider its noises part of the house’s symphony.
It’s been snowing the last couple of days which mutes all the exterior sounds save those of my Albanian neighbor who recently bought a set of drums and practices twice a day, mistaking thrashing loudness for talent.
My home is a living entity housing a parasitical entity—me—and I am lucky to have it, with all its noises, refrains and tics.

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