I’m writing this from my parents’ house in suburban Chicago. This is the house I grew up in, and apparently it’s magic, because it has morphed in size several times in my life.
When I was a kid, it was huge. I remember my room being divided up into little sections (I was crazy for rearranging the furniture) – a doll area on one side of the bed near the window overlooking the woodsy ravine, bookshelves as dividers, a me-sized table and chairs over in one corner for drawing and making books. My brother’s room was somewhere else, who knew where. Outside was a yard and the creek in the ravine and an excellent playfort under the front stairs.
Then a weird thing happened. Maybe an unfortunate enchantment, or maybe it was just a by-product of natural cold-weather-related contracting, but around the time I entered school, the house shrank. I became aware of the homes of the kids I went to school with, which were freaking huge, the yards grassy oceans dotted with playground equipment and deck furniture like weather-proof islands. They had stairs IN the house. Kids had their own bathrooms. Kids had bedrooms PLUS playrooms PLUS dens PLUS living rooms we weren’t allowed in! These people had multiple televisions in their houses!
One horrid girl came over to play and the next day told our first grade class that my house was about the size of our classroom. One day I was walking home with a new friend and stopped in front of some other house and insisted on waving goodbye there on the sidewalk, waiting until she was out of sight before walking the rest of the way to my own house.
A few decades later, another weird thing has happened: this crazy house has ballooned in size, embiggened by some mysterious invisible renovation or something. Now I visit from our trailer-sized (maybe? Probably trailers are bigger. And more updated) apartment in Brooklyn, where even mansions are about the size of a suburban garage, and think that if I could afford an apartment the size of my parents’ house I would a) literally be a millionare, and b) not even know what to do with all the space. There are THREE bedrooms! Plus more rooms! Plus a basement with LAUNDRY! Plus a bathroom that an adult can fit inside of! Harper runs around like a crazy person, opening doors and peeking inside, as if surprised to find yet another room. I’m constantly losing track of things like my phone in ALL OF THESE ROOMS.
The idea that I ever would have felt embarrassed by this house is now very embarrassing. It’s an extremely charming 100-year-olf white house with a peaked roof and a red door, surrounded by trees, that if it weren’t my house I probably would have thought was something out of a fairytale. It’s a thousand times cuter than the tacky McMansions I so coveted. To look at it now and think about it being too small for a family of four seems really disgusting and overly American.
So to this house: Sorry. And to big houses full of big furniture: Foo.