Open Door by Melissa

Published on 20 March 2004 in Family, Home (Please wait)

I had other, better photos to write about, but I found myself going back again and again to this one. It’s blurry, the lighting isn’t right, the doorframe is in the shot… you’ll just have to trust me that this scene was much more aesthetically pleasing at that moment in real life. My husband George was folding things in our bedroom as I walked past: clothes, sheets, towels. We were getting ready to move out of our apartment into our first house. Well, technically you could call it my second house, since I lived in a house with my parents before; for George it would be the fourteenth.

George was born in Budapest, Hungary. Both his father and his mother are architects, and his father owns a contracting company. His family would move into the beautiful new houses they had designed and built, then sell the house after a year or so; they also rented apartments in the city. By the time he came to the U.S. as a 12th grade exchange student, he had lived in thirteen different places, none of which had ever lasted long enough to be “home.” He remembers multiple streets, multiple houses, multiple neighbors, multiple cats. This was a completely alien idea to me; there is only one house in my childhood memories. I remember always looking at the same spot from my bedroom attic window to find Orion in the sky. He never moved.

George and I had been dating for just a week when he moved out of the college dorm for the summer. Being here on a student visa, he was only allowed to work on campus and part time; his minimum wage income was barely enough to rent a small, shabby apartment in a building near the dorm. George had to scrub the walls, floors, and counters, even fumigate for cockroaches when he first moved in. He kept it clean and was never less than grateful for his borrowed possesions: a mattress on the floor, a clock radio, a phone, a few dishes and silverware, and an old TV with three local stations. Clothes and books were the only things he had brought from home. His family was not poor:

“We just moved so much,” he explained, “I never had the chance to keep unnecessary things.”

Five summers later, George and I bought our first house. He used to joke that Hungary was not his home anymore, but America didn’t feel like home yet either, “so I must be somewhere out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.” Now the word “home” brings to his mind the image of a specific house on a specific street, a specific cat and a very specific wife. He has come a long way from Budapest and from that first apartment. As for me, I found Orion from our new house’s windows (he still hasn’t moved). George and I made our home here, together. And we won’t have to pack moving boxes again for a long time.

Melissa (Ohio, USA)

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