Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New Orleans House Pride

Whenever I spend a few days at my brother’s house in New Orleans, there come times when I ask him about one or more of his furnishings. Sometimes it occurs to me that a painting over one table may have been over another table at some earlier visit. Occasionally I seem to notice for the first time that two side chairs in the living room are not matching – something my brother plans deliberately in order to inject energy into that room. From time to time I feel safe noting that something in the house is new, undeniably new since my last visit. That kind of comment takes courage to make because I squirm just a little if the answer suggests that I have indeed seen the object before.

My comments, though, succeed for the most part. They succeed because my brother enjoys talking about his house. What may seem a random arrangement on a particular surface likely was meant to seem random. My comments confirm the instincts that my brother has that rooms either work or they don’t. I have watched him accept compliments from guests to the house, and the tone he uses may sound detached or merely informational when I suspect he is secretly and justifiably brimming with house pride.

When I sit in my brother’s living room as I did last week, I often arrange to sit by myself. I bring a book with me, and I get to be the reader that an armchair next to a window was positioned to invite and welcome. I play the part that not everyone who comes to my brother’s house has the time or inclination to play. My reading – something I love to do in chairs and couches that I have positioned in my own New England living room – frees me to look up from time to time. I get to observe a home duly ordered, playfully arranged, carefully maintained.

I sit where my mother once sat. I sit where my father sat. I sit where aunts and uncles and cousins and in-laws sat through the twenty-five years that this has been my brother’s home.

I sometimes even get to sit where I sat.


Ur-spo said...

I am getting more appreciative of sitting, a lost art indeed.

Julie Kertesz said...

Is 'love after love' a book?
I love the citation from your blog!