02 July 2010
Day 97: Half Broken Things
Jean, who is one of the main characters is a professional house sitter. I, too, have had my stints as a house sitter. Jean eventually recreates her personality to fit the house to the point where she brings in an entire new family to fill the house with. I can definitely relate to throwing on a personality to match the house you're living in...up to a certain point. For instance, in order to sustain the sham I would never sell someone else's stuff just so I could use the house like it's my own.
But there are homes where you become more comfortable than others, either as a guest, a house sitter, or just in your imagination. Some places just have more personality that draw you in and make you change the way you think about things. I was recently able to stay in such a place, although the people definitely helped me throw on my borrowed identity.
During my conference in Washington, DC (that would be the American Library Association Conference), I was able to stay, and leave my car, with the parents of my college room mate in Maryland. On Friday they dropped me off at the Shady Grove Metro station and I rode the rails into town with my awkward luggage, rather than spending whatever ridiculous price they're charging for parking.
In any case, their house is a large two story with basement. They have four bedrooms and at least 3.5 baths. It is a gorgeous house, it is well-kept, but also lived in. There is clutter in the office, the bookshelves have skewed books (indicating frequent use), and it is not unheard of to find stray bits of dropped food between moppings on the kitchen floor. This is not to imply that the house is dirty, simply that its occupants are more interested in living than keeping a pristine property. It is a house that encourages familiarity and ease, and one can tell by stepping into it that the owners encourage the same.
So it was easy for me to stay in their home, and feel that I would want for nothing -- that I would be taken care of. And I was. They are just that kind of people, to the point where they even took my car in for an oil change (and new floor mats and windshield wipers and a tank of gas!). It is never something I would have asked them to do for me, or even thought that they would have done for me. It has become somewhat expected, because they are kind and generous people. They have the money to do things like this for me, and they like having someone to care for now that Matthew is gone.
I know I started talking about houses and went on to people. But Matthew's parents are the kind of people who bring that "sense of place" with them. Wherever they go, they will create a feeling of ease, comfort, and of being taken care of. I don't use this word frequently, but I am truly blessed to have them in my life. I hope everyone knows at least one person like them.