My mother has lived in the same house since she was 4. She left for a bit when she first got married, then moved back in and has been there ever since. It is the house her parents made fancy. It is the house she had parties in. Had anniversaries and birthdays in. It is the house I was born into and grew up in. It is the house where I told my father I was going to miss him so much when he was sick. The house with the front closet that held his terrible tweed coat for the football games. The house with my first darkroom in a converted coal closet. The house does not feel old, it just feels like home. A lot in that house haunts me, especially seeing my reflection in the same mirrors I looked into growing up. Looking at myself now in those mirrors, I can’t really relate to the passage of time. I am exactly the same. I look exactly the same as I did when I was born. I feel exactly like I always wanted to feel. I am more the person who looked in those mirrors at 12 than a bunch of the years in between.
I have packed up in that house many times to go on my adventures. College. New York. Packing up the station wagon to drive across the country with my father. Bringing girlfriends home. Bringing this amazing woman I met in Nashville I wanted to marry home. Bringing my own children home and seeing their reflection in the same mirrors. Then packing all of their things up to go back to their home.
In the back of the second floor there is an old claw foot tub in the bathroom. I love to fill it up with really hot water and soak. Pittsburgh is full of memories I don’t quite remember. I feel like I am supposed remember everything. The taste of the summers. The steel mills before they tore them down. What they taught me at Sunday school. Why I never wanted to drink with everyone else. Who lived in that house. Who everyone’s parents are. I pass places where things happened. They are like markers for buried memories. I really want to remember my father, and can hardly remember anything. I see these pictures of us together on the walls, and can only think about what I want to share with him right now. I want him in the reflections with me and my boys.
My boys don’t see any of that. They crawl into my mother’s bed in the middle of the night, wake up and cry out, “Don’t leave me” then fall back to sleep.