Our house is a very, very fine house. With two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard, now everything is easy because of you. – “Our House” 1970 – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
I was about eight years old when the song Our House hit the airwaves. It was a song that promised tranquility, love and happiness and I glommed onto it like a prayer. As the years went by, I rebuilt the lyrical fine house with my own visions. The cats became dogs. Instead of flowers in a vase, there was colorful fruit in a wooden bowl. And of course, it was near an ocean.
When I was in Key West last year, I found a small, yellow house that struck me as being just the sort of cozy home I’d envisioned for the past 40 years. I paused across the street from it and let my imagination drift past the patio and into the front door – the color of which is the only thing I might have changed, from seashell pink to cloud white.
The first room I stepped into was the living room, where sky blue pillows rested on a soft, rainy day gray couch. The dark wood of the floor was like the earth, covered in the center with a wave of ocean-colored carpet. A muted seascape, sea foam green with hints of blue and silver, hung above the fireplace, while another wall held a shadow-box map of the world, with red thumbtacks marking all the places I’d been, and green for the places I’d yet to visit.
In the dining room, a bowl of apples and pomegranates sat upon a cherry wood table, where a Sunday morning paper waited to be read. While the sun was streaming lightly through open windows and a slight breeze was billowing white curtains, fresh Kona coffee brewed in the kitchen. A cupboard was open, ready for the hands that would take out thick blue coffee mugs and breakfast plates. On the wall to the right of the gas-lit stove, there was a corkboard, where handwritten recipes, notes and grocery lists were tacked with cheerfully colored pins.
Down the hall, past the bedroom with its four-poster bed and thick down comforter, was my small writing room. In the center, there was a mahogany desk with an amber lamp on one side and a filigreed silver box on the other, containing pens collected on my travels. The white walls were made colorful with art, most of it painted or drawn by friends — a watercolor by Kaitlyn, a pen & ink drawing by Suzen, a collage by Tasmi — and on the left wall, aligned with my desk, another corkboard filled with notes, some written on paper napkins, others on index cards or scraps of paper.
A sanctuary of skin & mutuality…a love of hope.
The 7 words that changed me.
4248 and other strange commonalities.
Dozens of notes overlapped one another, some sharing the same thumbtack, some buried under others. There were sparks of thought ignited in cars and coffee shops — feelings that surfaced while half-dreaming under white sheets or a blue beach awning — small epiphanies had while engaged in work or conversation.
Standing in front of the little yellow house, I let my mind wander. I dared to dream of a home that was full of love and belonging. Although weathered by age and jaded by 40 years of experience, I was suddenly eight years old again on this street in Key West, praying for a happy ending, and choosing to believe that nothing, ever, is impossible.
Come to me now, and rest your head for just five minutes
everything is good
Such a cozy room…
the windows are illuminated
by the sunshine through them
Fiery gems for you
only for you…