After school today I heard the child mutter something under his breath about a happy house. I asked what he was talking about, and he explained that in a few hours, our house would be very happy, filled with excited little boys experiencing their first sleepover.
Our house has not been very happy lately, I suppose. It's been staged for real estate showings. No house enjoys that. Houses are not meant to be museums. Houses crave people, the more the merrier, and the laughter those people might bring.
Our house has been a showpiece for 6 months now, and the house has started to complain. It burns out its light bulbs with lightening speed, as if to punish the uptight homeowner. It has started showing never before seen wrinkles- the marble in front of the fireplace features an unsightly crack, just like the slate in the entry and the kitchen linoleum (referred to euphemistically as "vintage"). I can't help noticing smudges and fingerprints on the living room walls which I was sure I had cleaned to perfection. Even the marble window sills around those Anderson windows are showing signs of discoloration, aging and shifting.
Each time I hear the furnace kick on I say a silent prayer, because I know it's on its last legs. I didn't have it serviced this fall because I keep thinking I'll be out of here soon- why bother? Its humming sound is louder than it used to be- in fact, it's working itself up to a disconcerting roar.
Even the electrical system has started to act up. I can no longer fire up the Dyson HEPA vac without tripping the circuit breaker. Now I accept that if I want to vacuum, I have to turn off every light in the house first, shut down the computer and unplug the refrigerator.
The tree in front of the house sees to it that my roof looks unsightly at all times. An hour after the gutter cleaners left last month, that tree dropped 6 enormous warbled branches onto my roof, where they remain as testimony to my neglect.
But tonight the house is happy, as it literally shakes with the rhythm of the delirious boys. It resonates to their manic shouting, acting as a conspiring megaphone. The boys rush through the house, searching not for its flaws but for its magic. They marvel at its secret door hiding the card table cabinet. They climb up through the coat closet leading up to the attic with no floor, awestruck. They shriek for joy in the usually ignored basement as they sort through all the stored treasures. The house thrives tonight, doing what it was put on this earth to do.
I bet it would let me vacuum tonight, with the lights on.