Saturday, January 18, 2014

the front porch.

We looked at a lot of houses during our six month search in Thomasville. There were houses with 16-foot ceilings, houses with teal kitchens, houses with checkerboard floors. There were backyards with swingsets and hallways with stained glass, wood-burning stoves and outdoor fire pits. We liked a lot of what we saw, but I didn't know if we'd ever find "the one."

There's this myth that spreads like wildfire among women, particularly women who find themselves in the middle of a search, a treasure hunt: women looking for the perfect man, the perfect dress, the perfect house. The myth -- and maybe it began in truth -- is that you'll know it when you find it. The emotional draw of the human, of the gown, of the home, will be so strong, you'll feel it. You won't be able to ignore it. 

It's a dangerous myth, because it leads to the rejection of perfectly good things, things that would have been good enough if we hadn't been waiting for the magical moment. 

I hated shopping for wedding dresses. Loathed it. My mother and I went into shop after shop, ranging from the chicest boutique to Moultrie, Georgia's bridal barn. Nothing seemed right. All the gowns were strapless and white. None of them looked like me, and I wanted desperately to look like myself on our wedding day. 

So my mom did what I suppose any wonderful mother would do. She found someone to make my dress, and it was polka-dotted and sleeved, and I could wear my Converse tennis shoes, and I loved it. But even that dress, even that perfect-for-me dress, didn't leave me with feelings of euphoria or adoration. The day I finally tried it on, my heart didn't flutter and my knees didn't buckle. I loved it, sure, but I didn't feel any immediate attachment or awe. And at first I felt a little guilty about that. I couldn't understand why I hadn't had the feeling. I had bought into the myth, and as it turned, the myth didn't ring true for me. 

Enter buying a home. 

We went into house after house, and I kept waiting for this feeling I kept hearing about. I kept waiting for the moment I'd step over the threshold and just know: This house was meant for us. 

I'm not sure that moment ever really came for me. Perhaps it's just not in my personality type for me to swoon or be bowled over by nostalgia or feeling. Though I feel a kinship to Anne Shirley, and I consider myself to be a fairly romantic, imaginative person, maybe I'm just not romantic or imaginative enough for the myth to happen to me. 

But if that feeling does exist, if the myth is true, the closest I ever came to feeling magic was when I walked into the doors of the home we now cautiously call ours. 

When I was 10, my parents bought a new house, out in the country -- relatively speaking -- and I was hesitant, I think, as most children are when moving is involved. It was only five miles up the road, but it was away from the neighborhood that held my grandparents, my cousins. The house would have to be something special to pull us away from the people and the house and the yard my brother and I loved so much. And the truth was, the new house really didn't feel all that special, not at first.

But then we discovered we could play "Civil War" in the backyard where my parents were having trees torn down. The yard was big enough to play kickball, and there was a basketball goal in the driveway. My room had two windows, and my parents put a desk in front of one so I could feel like John Boy Walton. 

And there was the porch. 

I guess porches are a Southern thing, but to me, they simply symbolize home. 

My parents hosted a graduation brunch for me on our front porch. They moved the Foosball table outside, and my friends came over, and we played and ate and laughed. All throughout junior high and high school, my mom and I would sit in the porch swing and talk about mean girls and hard days. When Chet and I hung out in his room, we'd hear the swing creak back and forth while my parents visited with each other, and my mother watched the birds. 

I got my first phone call from a boy on that front porch. (He was calling for help on his spelling homework.) At Thanksgivings and holidays, the kids' table would sometimes be on the front porch, and while we may have loathed it at the time, I think all of us now miss sitting at the kids' table. It was fun, looking back, to have a place all to ourselves, especially when that place happened to be away from adult eyes, hidden in plain sight on the front porch. 

Then, more than ten years after moving into that house, a boy I loved very much stuck a pair of Converse tennis shoes on that same front porch. He sat next to me on the swing, and we dreamed about life together. He proposed, and in the weeks that followed, my parents and I planned our wedding from the comfort of the porch swing. 

As a little girl -- and now, as a grown up -- I loved my parents' front porch. I never want them to move, because the porch, the home they made for me and my brother, means so much to me. And I guess I knew, deep down, that's all I really wanted or was waiting for. 

A home with a front porch. 

This week, we bought a house. A tiny little house in a tiny South Georgia town. Jordan carried me over the threshold, and we had our picture taken in front of the "sold" sign.

On Friday, my mom and I cleaned every inch of that house, and when we needed a break, we'd sit together on the front porch swing, watching the neighbors walk by.


Anna {dear friend} said...

This brought tears to my eyes. Your memories, they are so much like my memories, too.

I wish you happiness in this house, Annie. Best of luck with the move in!


Dub said...

Loved this post through and through.

The Porch is such a pillar of Southern culture. My great grandma used to sit on her porch day after day on a lime green, iron rocking bench. I can still picture it quite vividly. I miss it!

Betsy said...

Congratulations on the house! It's adorable, and I have no doubt that it will be well-loved.

Porches are magical, aren't they? That's one of my 'dream list' items for a future home. Enjoy it!

Elizabeth Dean said...

Congratulations! When Brandon and I bought our home he had three things he wanted: an older home, to be in Norman Park (and not in Moultrie), and a huge front porch. We got all three and there are two rocking chairs out there. A porch can make all the difference in turning a house into your own space.

Julianne said...

Love, Annie! I just love this!

Chet said...

Hey, I loved this. And when I'm home I'll bake you and Jordan a belated "welcome home" pie.

Feisty Harriet said...

I absolutely love this part:

"It's a dangerous myth, because it leads to the rejection of perfectly good things, things that would have been good enough if we hadn't been waiting for the magical moment."

Yes! And Amen! And YES!! THIS!!

Thank you for sharing, and hooray about the house! :)


RA said...

Hooray for the house! AND the porch! I'm so excited that you can make the house home.

Amber Thomas said...

Oh it's perfect. And that porch, to die for. Welcome home to you.

Our home buying process has been frill and thrill free too. I really struggled going into house after house and wishing SO DEEPLY for it to have the feeling of "the one". But then, that didn't happen with my boyfriend at first. I guess for some of us romance is determined by time and relationship, not by intense, immediate emotion.

I'm glad we're in similar boats.

Shanna Mallon said...

this makes me so happy for you. I love front porches but have none of the history, and I love yours. A million congratulations!

Laken Nix said...

I've been on a blog reading hiatus and almost forgot how much I love reading your words.

We're in the process of buying a house, too, so this one gets me. Here's to new adventures!

Laura said...

This is so, so exciting Annie! A front porch is something I've always wanted, and while I don't have it now, it's on my list for my "one day" home. I am so happy you have a big one! You will make so many memories there.

Emily Walsh said...

How exciting! I actually just got done reading up on your blog and had a quick question. I was hoping that you could email me back when you get the chance. Thanks!

Emily : )