The year I built my house, I had a poem all set to stencil on one of the walls downstairs. That room was to be a combination reading/music room, plush and inviting with overstuffed seating, large pillows in the corners, tropical plants and heavy draperies, too. The poem, Here Is All I've Counted Splendid, written by Edgar A. Guest, was to be a perfect addition, I thought:
Write it down when I have perished:
Here is everything I have cherished;
That these walls should glow with beauty
Spurred my lagging soul to duty.
That there should be gladness here
Kept me tolling year by year...
Every thought and every act
Were to keep this home intact.
It summed up the way I felt about the house I'd just built. The house I'D BUILT, because that year, the man I'd married was non-existent - literally. Forever gone on trips where he fully applied himself to a rigorous schedule of work and play in order to create the prosperity and head-space required to bank-roll a new build and a jet-set lifestyle. Forever unplugged from the daily rigors of family, after discovering children, house-hold chores and traditions weren't really his thing.
But that kind of imbalance can only spawn ruin. That kind of life, when involving actual living, breathing human beings, tends to break down the body and soul over a sustained period. And believe me, I'm not telling the half of my story - not hardly; not yet.
Anyways, I never did stencil that quote on my wall. It made no sense; where it had once characterized my idealistic hope and view of achieving a home at last, after years and years and just... too... many... years... of moving, I wanted a home. I wanted a family. I wanted to pour my heart and soul into both - breathing my own life into them; I wanted to make it all beautiful and alive. I wasn't afraid of hard work - I never have been. I'd already survived life as a latch-key kid and I'd already stood, crying, on a Manhattan corner with no money, no home, no one to call. A sucky marriage? Wadn't nuttin' but a thang. Now... I have an entirely different definition of Home. And I have a Part II to Mr. Guest's poem:
No amount of mere toil or love
Can make a house a home
There's a magic that must come to stay
And it must enter on it's own
The unseen energy that comes and snakes
between lovers, betwixt mother and child
Blissful, free, heady, luminous
Intoxicating, gorgeous, wild...
I am not afraid to tear down this place
That something better can grow
First order of business is to clear this space
Or --- soldier on and never know...