The sound and smell of brewing coffee fills the room;
paneled walls and dark stained cabinets resist
the graying light slowly chasing away the dark,
illuminating ten years’ worth of scratches and scuffs and stains.
Dents in hollow-core doors,
wallpaper border peeling at the edges.
Cabinet hinges squeak upon opening to reveal
ten years of accumulated marriage:
Survivors from three different sets of tea glasses;
tin cans, Tupperware, and opened packages of ingredients
purchased for forgotten meals. Drawers open to
non-scratch spatulas with melted handles and blades,
spoons chewed by the garbage disposal and forks with bent tines.
No amount of mopping can make the linoleum floor look clean again.
Avocado colored refrigerator and stove,
trash compactor that has hardly ever been used, a
model for which replacement bags can no longer be found,
all once seemed a good idea.
How could a man and woman without children or pets
age a house so hard in such a short time?
Twelve years ago we
planned and built the house together. Every day after
work and all day Saturday and Sunday we framed,
wired and plumbed,
laid linoleum and carpet,
installed appliances, and dreamed.
Matt joked with me about how hard I worked,
said I’d “make a good Mexican.”
He meant it as a compliment.
It was a solid, well-built house.
I imagined spaces for children sleeping and playing,
and where Matt and I would go to get away from the kids.
We built the biggest house we could afford at the time,
and now it seemed small and dingy,
not even big enough for two people,
let alone the children we’ll never have.
The house has aged, slowly and almost
like Matthew and me,
and now I am forty-four and live in a
house that I would glance at once,
if passing on the road,
but not bother to look at again.