Yesterday the sky hung low and dark and brooding, clouds so menacing my daughter gave them names. Just as the storm was breaking I pulled up to the house. Cars littered the little street and thunder rolled in waves across the ridge line. We made a run for it, my girl and I, through the yard, past the hand written sign that read ESTATE SALE TODAY.
Inside it smelled of ointment and old carpet and years of living. It was packed full of evidence of life.
I’d gone looking for things to fill a house that is not yet our home.
I browsed a table of costume jewelry, mismatched platters with corners chipped. There were silver teapots and iron trivets and little forks whose usefulness had long expired. Upstairs there were three smallish bedrooms, a metal walker parked in a corner by a rotary telephone.
My daughter and I made our way through the rest of the house. She found a little doll bed and rocked that invisible baby to sleep. I considered, for a moment, some patio furniture in the garage. But the price was high and the timing was off, and I decided I’d better be absolutely certain about something before lugging it home.
We left the estate sale to the soundtrack of thunder and rain that filled the gullies on the sides of the road. Water rushed down the hillsides and the sky lit up. I thought of that old house’s occupants, the years of living they must have done, the Thanksgiving turkeys on the platters back when they were whole.
I thought of my house, the one we’ll be leaving, the babies nursed and lasagnas made, the wallpaper we’d peeled from the upstairs hall when we’d first moved in, revealing layers and layers of living beneath.
Waiting in my mailbox was a letter from Rafael. Mi casa, he wrote. My house. Mi casa tiene 2 camas. We have 2 beds in the same room, he wrote. My house is made of brick. What is your home made of?
I thought of the story of the Three Little Pigs, that Big Bad Wolf blowing thunder over straw.
Mi casa, I said aloud.
I thought of all the boxes I’ll need to pack up our lives, all the stuff I’ll need to fill another house.
I thought of the rain-soaked girl twirling circles in the living room, the boy across the world who’d written to me.
My home is made of more than brick and mortar, more than the stuff that fills its rooms. There’ll come a day when all of it is broken, and the rain will come rushing down our hillside and wash it all away.