Down the street from my Mom and Dad there is a gorgeous house. It has more windows than my house three times over and a beautiful rolling yard. It is a traditional brick home you could find anywhere in the States, in any neighborhood. Not long after my parents moved we were driving home from dinner and we drove past the house. My mom remarked to my father that it was so sad the people that owned the house were what she called “house poor”. When I asked what that meant she explained that sometimes people buy houses that are too big or too expensive and they cannot afford to furnish them completely. As a kid, with little understanding of money or responsibility, this seemed like such a silly thing. Why would someone buy a house just to let the rooms sit empty? Immediately pictures of a family eating in an empty room, sleeping on the carpet, and listening to their echoing voices bouncing of bare floors and walls came to mind. Even now, years later, whenever I drive past that house I glance towards the windows expecting to see the bare rooms instead of the silhouettes of furniture.
This idea of being house poor has come back to me many times since that day. The most recent being a disappointing relationship where I thought we were loved as we loved them. It was sad and shocking to realize my son and I loved this family multitudes more than they did us. I realize that not all relationships are equal and you are lucky if you find more than one friend that loves you as much as you love them. While I was trying to sort out my hurt and anger the term “house poor” came to mind. I was jolted by how perfectly the term fit the situation. On the outside the family seemed warm, inviting, and a good place for my son to spend time playing. But once I peeked in the windows I realized the rooms were bare. All the perceived warmth disappeared and all I was left with was bare floors and empty cabinets. Now before you start thinking ”She thinks she’s perfect” know I am no prize chicken. My house has been bare at times even though my exterior looked great. I know I am flawed, cry on demand, and am sarcastic to a fault. But I also know that I am able to love deeply and would give you the shirt off my back if you needed it. These days my “house” looks like it belongs in a trailer park with a toilet for a planter in the front yard and a car on cinder blocks in the driveway. But if you take a chance and can get past the trash on the porch and the old washer that should have gone to the dump you will find a warm interior and a cup of coffee. And unlike my house poor friends, there is always a place at my table for you.