All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House by David Giffels

By David Giffels

With the lyrics of a Replacements tune working via his head ("Look me within the eye, then inform me that i am satisfied"), David Giffels—with his spouse and toddler son in tow—combs the environs of Akron, Ohio, looking for the best residence for his burgeoning relations. the hunt ends on the entrance door of a pretty yet decaying Gilded Age mansion, the once-grand former place of dwelling of a rubber-industry govt. It lacks sensible plumbing and electrical energy, leaks rain like a sketch shack, and is infested with all demeanour of flora and fauna. yet for a tender father at a coming-of-age crossroads, the problem is strictly the attract. all of the means house is Giffels's humorous, poignant, and confounding trip throughout the nice experience of restoring a crumbling apartment as a way to learning what the phrases "grown up" and "home" rather suggest.

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I accepted her handshake, but I was already beyond her, drawn by the intrigue of this entryway. There was a rusty, table-size radiator cover to the left; there were cracks in the wall, cracks in the dingy ceiling, age spots in a full-length dirty mirror. And a smell, or not a smell, but an atmosphere, musty, at once wet and dry, the dark magic of antique dust, a scent that triggered something primal in me—a smell from the beginning of my 34 ] David G iffe ls memory, when my parents had looked at and considered buying a big Gothic falling-down place in a nearby country town, with a barn and angled cellar doors and a toad my brother found and picked up and it peed on his hand.

It wasn’t his fault. That part of myself simply ended when the waking up was prompted by someone in the next room crying his lungs out, or, when the lungs were not being cried out, my own sleep became a precious thing not to be suspended for the frivolous purposes of fiction and self-fulfillment. But there had to be something. There had to be. A t the beginning, Gina’s basic nature and my basic nature meshed in matters of renovation. Gina understood the practicality of the “Do-It-Yourself ” approach to home improvement because it saved money while making our home a more pleasant place to live.

David was outgrowing what he could do to that house. No matter where we went next, he was going to want to remake everything, and that was how he was going to spend whatever time he could. So why not restore a mansion? I think the answer had begun two Christmases before, in the wee hours of the morning. We had been married six years, and I was pregnant with Evan. We had spent Christmas Eve as we did every year, at David’s parents’ house. We always celebrated it big. Lots of food. Lots of drinks.

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