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Margo: Finally found a home

Alison Berkley Margo

A few weeks ago, I had this huge epiphany about going home.

Ryan was going on a river trip with the guys for his 40th birthday, so I made plans to go to my parents’ house.

The idea of being home without Ryan is, like, disturbing. He has a way of filling up the space with his energy, his booming voice and his constant, playful banter that has defined my day-to-day life to a frightening degree. He makes noise even when he is asleep, from the snoring and the huffing and puffing to this funny thing he does where he lets out air like a deflating balloon. So rather than silence, the space becomes filled with his absence. It’s not quiet ­— it’s just missing Ryan noise. And it’s not peaceful because of that. Plus, I have no warm legs to stick my icy-cold feet between in bed, and I so totally hate that.

So I planned to go to my parents’ house in Steamboat for the weekend, a space where being without Ryan is not as noticeable. My parents’ house is filled with a whole different kind of noise, mostly from whatever is booming out of the speakers, which are wired into every room via my dad’s beloved home entertainment system.

Dad just loves to crank up the volume on that thing, and it’s not because he’s deaf — it’s because he’s so proud of his technology that he thinks it’s fun to torture you with it. This might require six different remote controls and a keypad thing that’s in the wall and a special decoder ring and 3-D glasses and a magnifying glass, but he will see to it that the volume is cranked in every room in the house. There is no escape.

That means if Dad is watching “Meet the Press” on MSNBC, you are, too. So now your nice, carefree, relaxing weekend involves contemplating Benghazi and health care reform. The same goes for the really bad soft-jazz station he likes on satellite radio and the soundtrack to “Slumdog Millionaire,” which he made us listen to, like, 100 times at full blast.

The house has these 30-foot cathedral ceilings and hardwood floors, so sound has a tendency to reverberate more than it would in a normal house, even at a reasonable volume. That means things really get interesting when my mom decides to throw random food items like turkey carcasses and maybe the neighbors’ cat into the disposal while you’re trying to have a conversation with her. So I’m talking, and she’s going, “What?” while bones are being churned in the bowels of the sink, and then she’s mumbling something under her breath, and I’m going, “What?” but we never really get around to hearing what the other person is saying.

While all this chaos is going on, Dad is sitting in his favorite leather chair, reading his iPad with his drugstore reading glasses on the end of his nose, and appears not even to be paying attention to the ruckus he created that numbed our eardrums and drove us all half insane.

At some point my mom will usually yell, “Jesus Christ, Richard, will you turn that stupid thing down?” although in real life her demands are riddled with profanities they can’t publish in this newspaper.

So, there is still noise, and while it still does not fill the enormous void left in Ryan’s absence, it certainly takes up some space.

All that said, I have to admit that I hesitated about going to my parents’ at first. While I adore and love them and enjoy spending time together, I thought, “Why not just stay home? I have everything I need right here.”

And therein the epiphany lies.

For the first four decades of my life, my parents’ house was the place I called home. In addition to the place I spent time with family, it was also the place that offered everything my own living situation didn’t, whether it was escape from an annoying roommate or a washer and dryer. There were times when taking a long, hot bath was the ultimate luxury, either because the bathtub where I was living was too disgusting to consider soaking in or because there was never enough hot water to fill it all the way.

There were times when my mother’s kitchen was like heaven, with six burners and counter space and every pot, pan and cooking utensil I’d ever need. There were times when clean sheets and beautiful views and a quiet place to sleep were indulgences I coveted.

See, the thing is now I have all that — and more.

Don’t get me wrong. Our house isn’t nearly as elegant or beautifully decorated as my parents’. We’re not minutes from the slopes, and we don’t have a home entertainment system that scares the wildlife and probably can be heard from space.

But what we do have is so totally ours, and it’s even got a few of its own perks and quirks my parents’ house doesn’t have: a 1990s hot tub, with its tiled rim and views of the mountains; our massive deck, with the scrub oak trees that grow right through it; the sound of the river; the intoxicating aroma of lilacs in bloom; the light of the moon bright through the skylight in our bedroom; and — let’s not forget ­— Whole Foods: Steamboat doesn’t have that.

That’s when it occurred to me that maybe, finally, I’ve grown up, that this is what being an adult means — having created a space for yourself that is as much yours as the one you grew up in, with the security and comfort that your parents’ home provided for you until now.

Maybe it took more than half my life to find it, but I am ­— finally, gratefully — home at last.

The Princess needs to get out more. Email your love to alisonmargo@gmail.com.


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