Home again, home again

The Covington News - - Opinion - BAR­BARA MOR­GAN COLUM­NIST Bar­bara Mor­gan is a Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent with a back­ground in news­pa­per jour­nal­ism, state gov­ern­ment and pol­i­tics.

There’s noth­ing like be­ing away to re­store one’s body and soul. We were away just last week in some­what fa­mil­iar parts of Maine and New Hamp­shire, it­self a brand new ex­pe­ri­ence. The clean air, lack of hu­mid­ity, brisk breezes, for­est-cov­ered moun­tains, rocky shores and charm­ing small towns, some pre­dat­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War, were balm and sus­te­nance. Good friends, good food and good wine pro­vided end­less mo­ments to be cher­ished.

But all good things come to an end, and we ar­rived home late one night, pop­ping open the front door with its pre­dictable creak and arous­ing a sleepy dog and his two fe­line sib­lings. The fa­mil­iar smells of home em­braced us, and we found things all in or­der. “Dis­or­der” would fol­low for the rest of the week as we made our way through news­pa­pers, bills and a raft of emails and mes­sages left on the an­swer­ing ma­chine. It would take a day or more to do laun­dry and re-stock food­stuffs. The joys of un­sched­uled days gave way to a date­book filled with meet­ings, dead­lines and ap­point­ments.

We were def­i­nitely home, and that’s not a bad thing de­spite the re-ori­en­ta­tion it re­quires. It takes go­ing away and be­ing away to make us all the more grate­ful for the home we come back to. Many of our “things” have been with us for years. We have his­tory with them: com­fort­able couches that in­vite you not to move once set­tled on them; col­or­ful and cushy rugs on hard­wood; art­work, most care­fully cho­sen, some bought im­pul­sively; a hand-carved bed­room suite dat­ing to my ma­ter­nal great-grand­par­ents’ mar­riage in 1884; a cou­ple of up­hol­stered chairs I’ve owned for 40 years; and an­tiques my hus­band ac­quired longer ago than that. Just “things,” it is true, but they’re what ac­ces­sorize our life not un­like what good jew­elry does for the Lit­tle Black Dress ev­ery woman is sup­posed to own.

Lee Woodruff is the wife of TV jour­nal­ist Bob Woodruff who was al­most killed in 2006 cov­er­ing the war in Iraq when a road­side bomb blew up. Af­ter five weeks in a coma and a year in re­cov­ery, he went back to work at ABC News in 2007, but he had a dif­fer­ent take on life, as one could imag­ine. In the Oc­to­ber is­sue of Real Sim­ple mag­a­zine, Lee writes about his life-al­ter­ing de­ci­sion to re-in­vent their lives in a spe­cially de­signed and smaller home built to use so­lar and geo­ther­mal en­ergy, a dream he had cher­ished for their re­tire­ment. His near-death con­vinced him life is short and un­pre­dictable. Why wait?

It would re­quire dump­ing 20 years’ worth of ac­cu­mu­lated house­hold goods, art and ac­ces­sories and set­tling for only the most ba­sic pieces. Lee thought it would be a free­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to re­duce their clut­ter and col­lec­tions in or­der to live a sim­pler life with only the ba­sics at hand, and she em­braced the chal­lenge. She writes, how­ever, that as the last yard sale wound down, she be­gan to think oth­er­wise. “I deeply missed my stuff,” she said. It has con­tin­ued to be a dif­fi­cult tran­si­tion for her, she writes.

She still re­calls the joy of ac­quir­ing their “stuff”: an an­tique ar­moire brought home from Lon­don; other fur­ni­ture and ac­ces­sories handed down in the fam­ily; their daugh­ters’ first “big-girl” beds that might have be­come fam­ily heir­looms; a bookshelf she hand-painted; the pot­tery hutch used in­stead for baby clothes. Now, she says, she has a deeper ap­pre­ci­a­tion for how all the el­e­ments and ac­ces­sories so care­fully cho­sen or grate­fully re- ceived had cre­ated their liv­ing space and filled out her fam­ily’s life. She sug­gests that next time — if there is a next time — she won’t be so quick to rid her life of items that hold pre­cious mem­o­ries. Yes, things are just things and can­not sup­plant the peo­ple held dear in life, but there’s some­thing to be said for cher­ish­ing the mem­o­ries and joys that at­tach them­selves to items we’ve gath­ered to dec­o­rate our lives, the au­thor be­lieves.

There’s a mind game I’ve played of­ten, per­haps a dan­ger­ous one be­cause I think it’s best not to imag­ine po­ten­tial mis­for­tune. Nev­er­the­less, I some­times won­der if our house were on fire, what would I gather up to save be­fore rac­ing out the door? The an­i­mals, for sure, but they would likely beat me to the door. So would my hus­band, but I’d be the last to leave. Pho­tos and fi­nan­cial records would be es­sen­tial, of course. But af­ter that, what’s the one — ma­te­rial — thing I hold most pre­cious and wouldn’t want to lose? There’s no good “in­tel­lec­tual” an­swer; the de­ci­sion, for me, would have to be in­stinc­tive in the mo­ment. I’m hop­ing never to have to make a choice.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.