Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Downscale

Yesterday, the house was bumpin; today it rocks; tomorrow it shakes.

Mom drove up yesterday; Mandi's band of four arrived late last night. Jillian will arrive this morning, Tanner later tonight when he gets off work, and Holly will join us for lunch, along with her almost teenager Max, Annika, and the little monsters. Tomorrow, not a soul will be missing from the family. Sixteen of us will cook, play, and around 4:00 p.m., will squish in around a table we've already outgrown.

It's a good thing we kept the house.

No matter how much I can't imagine it, one day we will abandon this house, like a shell we shed because it no longer fits. Usually the slug, the snail or the hermit crab abandons his camper top for a larger one--we will be looking for a more snug fit.

This house mobility seems to be a phenomenon of our generation. Tony's grandparents built a two bedroom, one bathroom home on the Montana ranch. When the kids came faster or more abundantly than expected, the oldest child (Tony's mother), and her sisters moved into a tent on the property. Soon enough, she went to college, married, and was followed by all the sisters and a brother. Grandma and Grandpa Hitchcock had their home back.

My grandparents did the same. As newlyweds, they bought a one bedroom house with a kitchen and a parlor. When the trick or treaters hauled away the outhouse, they added a bathroom. As the children came, Grandpa finished off a crude room in the basement and the kids made due with the space they had, even though it must have been a tight fit with four sons and a daughter. Grandma lived in that house until the day she died.

Roots. A home. I need a place to belong, a place where memories are not stored away, but are the memories. Each time I sit down in my study, I remember this space used to be Jillian's bedroom. I've never painted over, Viva la bonneheure!! on her ceiling. I look down the hall into Tony's study and see our youngest's little feet peeking out of her twin bed blanket. A downstairs bedroom, its ceiling covered in shining stars, is still referred to as Mandi's room, and Holly's room will always be so.

The word downscale-- to cut back in size or scope,--was first used in 1945.

Even the tax system is conducive to selling one's home in older age. Tony and I could sell the house and use the profits, up to a certain limit, to travel the world or buy a condo without a garden to plow or grass to mow.

The odds are that we won't.

Just when I think about downscale, our home becomes a welcome refuge for the daughter and son-in-law who can't find an apartment in their price range. After a promise of "just a two week stay," we all become comfortable, dependent on one another, and it seems silly to live elsewhere. All to soon, school will be finished, the business will flourish, and they too will move on.

So how long will we keep the un-snug shell? Will we ever downscale? Take the profits, buy an RV and see the hidden America?

As my Dad used to say, "I'll leave this house in a pine box."

The only guarantee we will not live in this house forever.