The broom with which I sweep our floor is over a hundred years old. It’s swept lots of Dwyer crumbs, has lots of stories to tell. The head is held on by an old nail. Getting pretty wobbly now but still it does the job.
It’s a funny thing moving house. We have been doing a lot of clearing out. Before we lived here we moved five times so Ben has moved those boxes too many times. This time we are slimming down, not least because we’ll live with my parents for a few weeks before going into something temporary on our site while the house is built. Lots of our things will have to be stored or disposed of.
The thing I have found is that already I have become detached from all this stuff. It’s just some things. I can imagine what seems so familiar now, seen and sat on every day will seem distant and foreign when it comes out of storage and returns to us after months of living without it. I can see us looking at these faceless objects and thinking, “why do we have that?”.
It was strange when we sold this house because our buyer was also keen to have quite a bit of our stuff. Whilst I found that kind of odd, having the debris of our life examined and some of it wanted by someone we don’t know, I also felt completely ambivalent. It’s our stuff but if they want it that’s fine. It’s a lovely feeling to unburden and not have stuff. At least to some extent.
It’s not quite the same with the old broom. There are a few things that hold more story, mean something more, things that aren’t just stuff. Not the kind of things a house buyer would notice and want for themselves but that will stand in a corner for years and absorb a bit of life with us.
I think this is also something we need to remember. We rented for nine years after we were married, lots of lovely homes that were not ours. When we bought our current house there were a lot of compromises associated with it. The previous owners had bought it to do up and sell on. All neutral, tasteful colours but not a home. We’ve made it our home but it is not a difficult house to leave. What we hope to build will very much be our home I hope. But it will still be just a house. One day we will walk out of the front door and leave it all behind. It still shouldn’t matter all that much.
When I use the wobbly old broom I can think of the other hands that have swept floors as part of their service to their families. That have gone before us and have been involved in making us who we are. Perhaps there is more true house building in this than in laying timber to construct a dwelling.
I hope that old broom still stands in the corner and sweeps a few more Dwyer floors. And I hope I get to do some of the sweeping.