Old House

“Here’s your room. Towels, everything. Sorry about the house. I know it’s small and the bathroom…”

“Your house is pretty! Jack-n-Jill they call these, right? But yours is a little different.”

“Yeah, for some odd reason there’s a little hallway here. The closet is mostly empty. There are hangers in there.”


“Just let me know if you need anything.”

There is no privacy in this house — well,  some, but not a lot. The house is 95 years old. Sometimes I wonder about the people who built it and what their lives were like, how their values were different from ours, different from mine, anyway. I’m a private kind of person. I got that way as a kid growing up. I was never allowed to keep my bedroom door closed. I could close it, but SHE would open it, “What are you doing in there that you have to have your door closed?”

That turned me into a person who prefers to live life with her door closed.

Partly because of the physical configuration of my house, I’m better at visiting others than at being visited. I bring my own coffee, my own pot, my own blender, my own breakfast and a happy outlook in the morning.

My house reminds me of my grandma’s house which was older than this one probably by twenty years. My grandma’s bathroom was built on by my uncles! When my grandma and grandpa moved in, the house was out of town and had an outhouse. When I was a kid, the only way to get to the toilet was to tip-toe past sleeping grandma.

It never bothered her. As in her house, my bedroom door opens from the living room — the big difference is my grandma didn’t have a door, just a curtain. And, for that matter, the room I’ve set apart for guests is probably the one meant to be the master bedroom. It’s larger and very slightly more….private.

My grandmother could offer hospitality to more people than I can imagine in this tiny space. I remember a couple of Christmases when there was almost a barracks of makeshift beds in the backroom for grandchildren and daughters. I think there were nine of us in there, kids stacked two and three up, aunts sharing a double bed. “Don’t look!” yelled my Aunt Martha at the little sleeping boys as she undressed, boys who’d probably never thought of looking until she mentioned it.

My Aunt Martha also lived with her door closed. ❤


12 thoughts on “Old House

  1. What is it about adults that makes them deprive kids of privacy? I don’t blame you for your doors-shut habit. For any introvert who needs a bit of space, that’s a must!

    • My mom, in fact, had a very dirty mind AND she thought it was anti-social and I should go watch TV with the family. I don’t know why a teenage girl with her nose in a book was a threat to her, but it was.

  2. Gosh, Martha. I am very private, too, and my mother was just like yours. She would actually go through my dresser drawers, looking for….what? I never figured that out. I think that is why I never journal. No need to leave evidence for people to ‘find’ whatever they are looking for.

    • I’m sure my mom went through my dresser drawers, too. I remember when I began keeping a journal — in my 40s! — I felt like I was doing something really wild (and now I don’t know what to do with all those books…)

  3. Great post! It took me down memory lane to my own grandmother’s home. As a girl I think I had much less of a need for privacy. I never minded sharing the tiny home with all the others. I did however very much mind the walk in the dark to the old outhouse. 😉 Thanks for sharing.

    • When my mom was a girl, their outhouse trek could lead to them being harassed by turkeys! I’m glad the only time I had such a journey was when I was a camp counselor at a primitive camp. Indoor plumbing is a great thing.

  4. Now I get how we are related, Martha! You have described my mother in describing yours. Great post, and I always love hearing about people’s relationships to their houses!

      • Something to overcome is an excellent way to put it! Thanks, Martha – I’m glad to be back and so happy that you’re getting some much deserved recognition and support for your works! I’m eager to read the new one.

  5. For no reason that I can think of, I don’t like being in a room with the doors closed (unless I need the door closed for privacy) and when I first started driving I had to have the window open otherwise I might panic :-0
    But whatever anyone’s preference they should be entitled to that choice and so I’m sorry your choice was denied.
    Like you, I am interested in the social history of the place where I live but it is very difficult to find out about, and therefore sometimes you can only imagine.
    Happy blogging!

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