We bought the house I grew up in, which means I have been feeling safer at this home since 1971.
It juts out a little into the street so you can see the porch light from a good distance as you make your way south toward it. I have always liked that view, especially as I head home from a challenging day.
I used to stand on the front porch of my house and watch my children and their friends walk home from school. I loved the dance of their bright colored parkas and the sound of the chatter that traveled so much faster than they did. I knew then that, whatever drama, real or imagined, they’d experienced that day, they would all be safer at home.
Built in 1931, our house has creaky floorboards and good, thick walls. Those of us raised here think the noises and shadows protect us; visitors sometimes have to be convinced.
My sister Kathy used to think the tree shadows on the walls of her bedroom looked like firefighters and they made her feel safe. “I always felt like the firefighters were watching over us,” she said.
I recall the relief I felt at every age — as a child, teenager, young mother and now — as our car turned the last corner toward home following long road trips and I knew my own comfy bed waited for me on the other side of that familiar front door.
“I remember hiding in the room off the basement with Mom and Angie Wachs during a tornado,” my sister Jenny said. “I had no doubt the house would be fine.
I loved waking up in that house after an overnight snowstorm. Cozy and quiet.
Of course as you know I have hidden treasures in every corner of that house.”
Jenny used to practice her signature “Jenny the Great and Wonderful” in permanent marker all over the house. It still turns up every now and then.
Our house is kind of like one of my grandma’s granny square afghans. You can wrap yourself in its multi-generational quirkiness and warmth.
I also know the maternal comfort of the late night front door click announcing the last of my children had returned safely home.
I thought about that feeling yesterday after I read Wisconsin Governor Evers’ Safer at Home order.
We are all safer at home right now, and we’re helping other people stay safer as well. The way we perceive the next several weeks will help us weather the sometimes stifling inconvenience of responsible COVID-19 behavior.
So, we can look at the Safer at Home order as a burden, which it definitely is, or a privilege, which it can be. I’m going to call upon the memories of all the folks in my life who have made me feel safer at home as I hunker down for the next few weeks and appreciate what these four wonderful walls offer.
I’d love to hear your Safer at Home memories, and I hope you’re all healthy and staying well.