Photo: Anne Lawrence, Easter at the old house, 2014

The house moves through you.

I was thinking about a house where I used to live — how strange it is to have so many memories and experiences of a place where you no longer have claim. These houses, older homes, stand still as the occupants have come and gone over the last 100 years or so. I used to go out of my way to drive by my old house, to remind myself what it was like to live there, to just be there, walking that neighborhood, knowing those people and patterns. I did not own that house. As a renter I always felt like an imposter, living in the worst house on a block that was too expensive for me. Sure the paint was peeling and I actually stepped through a board on the back patio, but the location was superb. Too bad I would never be able to afford it.

When I dream of a house, it is usually our second home in Houston from my childhood. It was a gray story and half house with a backyard full of pine trees. I lived in five different houses growing up with my family. Then as an adult, I’ve live in five apartments, three duplexes, and three houses. When we finally left our last rental, we were determined to stay as close to the city as we could afford. We talk about moving again, but we don’t really want to.

We mold the spaces around us to our needs. Earlier in my life it seems that the ties that bind us to a place could suddenly snap, and it would be time to move again. Shake off the dust of the old house, the learned neighborhood and start over anew. What if instead of thinking about moving from house to house, we were the thing that was fixed and it was the house that moved through you — surrounding you, sheltering you, providing comfort and warmth until it was time for another home to take on the job? All my memories of home collapse into memories of people in those places, without them they are just empty spaces.

Photo: Anne Lawrence, Inspecting the new house, 2014

Writer, researcher, observer