Monday, May 21, 2012

There's no place like home

     I am very fond of homes.  Not just houses, but homes.  A building that is as much a part of your family as any living, breathing member complete with growth charts on the walls and hand prints in the sidewalk...where you raise all of your children and welcome them back regularly after they've grown, a space you're married to, this is home.

     This is the story of my home, not the house I live in now, (I've been having an extramarital affair on my home for the last five years with my husband's dream house) and not my childhood home (I'm pleased to report that even though my parents sold it twenty years ago it is still referred to by the neighbors as The Moran House).  No, this story is about the house I married and loved and planned my dying days and beyond in, but we'll get to that.  Jones Family Home #2, where Enzo's and Clara's hand prints and initials really are in the sidewalk at the bottom of the front porch step.  A house my grandma and I fell in love with at a yard sale.  A home that I actually cried for when it was no longer my residence.  A home I  learned, had been married before.

     When Enzo was fifteen months old I babysat a little boy to make a few bucks.  I had Enzo and Otis playing with play-dough in the kitchen of our home one day.  Otis became bored and wandered off.  I stayed in the kitchen trying to get Enzo to help me clean up.  I heard Otis talking in the hallway. "Are you my mother?  Are you Di-Anne?"  he was saying.  Diane was his mother's name so I figured she was standing at the door and he could see her through the window.  I made my way to the front of the house to let her in but there was no one there.  In fact Otis wasn't even looking at the door, he was talking to the landing on the stair case.  The sight of this golden haired angel faced boy working hard at figuring out what the stairway was saying freaked me right out and I ushered him straight into the kitchen for more play-dough, or painting, or snack, or whatever would keep us out of the hallway.

     That night, after I put Enzo to bed, I sat with Ariel at the dining room table and told him about what happened.  He was quiet for a moment then confessed that he had been withholding a bit of information from me.  A previous owner, not the folks we bought the house from (they only lived there six months), but the one before them, had passed away in the house.  He hadn't told me before because he didn't think I'd want to live in the house if I knew.  We received a bunch of mail with her name on it in the few months we had lived there.  Her name was Ann.

     If I were the fainting type I would have hit the floor right then.  Well maybe I would have waited until after I picked up the phone which began ringing at that very instant.  My heart was racing as I answered it and I was petrified, but not surprised when there was no one on the other end.  I glanced over my shoulder into the dark hallway and told Ariel that I was going to dial *69.  If I heard that recorded message when the phone lady says something about the last caller who called our line being unknown, we were moving out immediately.  Sure enough I heard all the proof I needed to convince me that the ghost in my house had just tried to call me and Ariel was right, I wanted to divorce the house pronto!

     Ariel insisted we stay put, and so we continued to live in Ann's house.  We hung curtains, bought furniture, decorated a bedroom across the hall from Enzo's for impending Jones Baby number two, had parties, brought home Baby Clara, built a spice rack, fell in love with our neighbors...had and planned an entire life there. One time I even brought a homeless dog named Julie to live with us.  I thought a little dog would complete our little family nicely.  Ariel thought either the dog went or I did.  One night I was reading bedtime stories to Enzo and Julie was stomping around on the stairs keeping Enzo awake.  Right then I agreed with Ariel wholeheartedly. The noise maker had to go.  After I read about Diesel 10 and Thomas the Tank Engine thirty or forty times I went downstairs to hang out with Ariel and a few friends who were visiting.

     Ariel questioned me on my recent activity so I reported all of the excitement I had just experienced in a two dollar and fifty cent book.  "Yeah, but why have you been sitting in the hall for so long?" he asked.  I didn't have a clue what he was talking about, I was hanging out with Enzo and Thomas the whole time.  "Lora, I heard you come down the stairs".

    "Noooo, you heard Julie come down the stairs.  I heard her too.  That stupid dog was keeping Enzo up.  I'd have been relieved of duty ages ago if it hadn't been for her".  The guys looked at me like I was bonkers. Julie had been watching Gladiator with them all evening.  Ugh, Ann strikes again.

    As a mother I favor a quick nursing to sleep over self soothing because it seems easier in that very instant.  The result is constant trips back and forth between my room and the children's rooms for all of eternity because they never learn how to do something so seemingly simple as sleep. (It was during one of these trips that I realized that Ann is going to have to make room for me when I die because I'll be haunting the hallway too, my soul won't know what else to do after a lifetime of this).  Our routine was, and still is, one of the kids shouts or whines, "Mom", then I shush them so they know I've heard them, am on my way, and don't want them waking the other kid(s).  Back at Home #2, Enzo and Clara would reply to my sushing with, "Mama, is that you or is it Other Mother?"

     Clara was the first to mention Other Mother and when she did I remembered Otis, "Are you my mother?"  I questioned the kids about Other Mother frequently but all I could get out of a 1-2 year old and an autistic 3-4 year old was that they didn't like her very much.

     Last weekend Ariel was speaking with the lady who lives in my home now. Their conversation made it's way to hauntings so Ariel asked her if she had ever noticed anything unusual in the house.  Apparently Ann is still getting her exercise by running up and down the stairs and our girl has learned a new trick.  She can now open and shut the front door.


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