When we had just bought the house, the tree in the courtyard barely had any leaves. Little green sprouts peaked along the branches but they were mostly still bare, as it was still winter.
The sliding door looking out the courtyard had the biggest windows and I could always see this tree every time I sat by the dining table. It’s now a seasonal clock where every day I can watch the passage of time. The leaves are now fuller and I can watch them sway from the wind. The grass grows fast enough that at the end of a week or two, they poke the bums of our dogs causing Nami to refuse pooping outdoors. That’s Dylan’s sign to pull our electric mower out. We’ve scratched the walls as we moved tables upstairs, accidentally pulled paint from the plaster while trying to hang curtains, drilled bike racks onto the garage wall to make more space for the car, built flatpack furniture to fill in empty spaces. There’s always dog toys on the carpet and the stairs needs weekly vacuuming. Nooks are becoming mine, and Dylan’s, and Nami’s, and Kino’s.
The house now feels like a home lived in.
Spring ushered new rituals: weekday mornings are for wiping down the kitchen counters so they smell like tangerines. Lunch breaks are for vacuuming floors and putting back Nami and Kino’s toys into the basket, where they’ll be sniffing and playing with them again in the evening. Idle hours are for browsing furniture and putting them in online shopping carts while imagining how I want our rooms to look, but never checking out because there’s a wedding to be paid for next year :’)
I think of my mum more often these days. I remember the paintings hanging on different parts of the house that changed every few years. There was a huge faux flower pot at the base of the staircase that guests always admired because at first sight you’d always think they were real. I remember the yellow sofa where we always plopped down to sit on after a long day of shopping, the chocolate browns that somehow matched the wooden antique Chinese cabinet that sat in the dining. Glass tables indoors and outdoors; wooden dining chairs that were probably older than me were once reupholstered to match my mum’s latest style. When -ber months rolled in, Christmas decors were always up and ready, the staircase lined with greens, whites, reds, and golds.
Styling my childhood home was exclusive to my mum. I never enjoyed hours shopping just to find a few perfect pieces for the house. I didn’t care about styling my room; all my furnishings were picked by my mum, and I liked what she liked.
But now I understand. I can feel the same little joys in making the spaces in our home look the way I want, feel warm and comfortable in the way I like. Buying cutlery, bedding, and picking out fragrances for the bathrooms are all things that make me happy these days. Posties delivering new furniture are like Santa, dropping off Christmas at my doorstep.
My mum has made our house hers, and I now have something to make mine.
I finished one of the guest bedrooms last week with a mix of old and new furniture: our old mattress, a new wooden bed base, the bedside table just a month old but was too short for my side of the bed. My favourite olive linen bedsheets, slightly faded, and the smell of pomegranate. I took a photo and sent it to her: your bedroom is ready, just waiting for you to fly here! It was an attempt to convince her to come and visit sooner than later, although I knew she had a big project and won’t be able to fly overseas until early next year. That’s okay, she can keep my photo as a sign to stop taking in big projects, work less, and enjoy her retirement.
For now I’ve got her promise for a visit early next year. Maybe to help with the wedding, maybe to help me decorate the house and the garden. It’s still just the middle of spring and our imperfect house is growing into our perfect home. :)