Friday, June 14, 2002

rethinking home

I just found out that the beloved old farmhouse in which I've lived for 4 years was originally an overseer's house on a plantation before the Civil War. We knew the place was old, we just didn't know it was that old. I don't know how to feel about my home now. This dear house, which has been such a peaceful haven for me and my friends, was once the site of punishment and oppression. Can I still love the place? Does a building's history shape what it means throughout the generations? Does redemption extend to locations as well as people?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. You can't turn around in this part of Virginia without bumping against something really, really old. Really, really old = slavery. And we knew the slave graveyard was on the property. I just didn't think our contact with the past was that intimate.

I want to reclaim this house, shield it from its own past, and stamp it forever as the sweet place that it seems. I want to be able to visit it in 50 years. But to save it from the rampant over-development in our area, to try to get its Historic Landmark designation, would label it forever as part of something evil. But at least it'd still be there -- and if there are no ghosts now, maybe its history as a family home will be as much its reputation as its original purpose.

Most of all, I just want my home back. I feel like I've been evicted.

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