On that June morning six years ago when we moved in, I got to the house before the moving truck and the kids, pulled a chair onto the front porch, ate a yogurt, and fell in love. I’d never had a front porch before, and this one, with its graceful columns and plenty of room for chairs, was hard to resist. “I’m going to sit out here every morning after my run, enjoy my breakfast, and watch the street wake up,” I said to myself.
I am not a gardener. This year I couldn’t even muster the enthusiasm to weed my flower beds. But my front porch is always full of flowers. For the last few summers, I’ve lined the perimeter with potted geraniums, and unlike every herb and edible item I’ve ever tried to grow, these actually stay alive.
A few years ago, I added a few chairs, an outdoor rug, and a lamp to the porch. It’s so darn adorable that if you drove by, you’d probably imagine an elderly couple sitting out there, him reading the paper, her watching the neighborhood kids riding by on their bikes.
I don’t actually sit in the chairs. They’re not very comfortable. When the sun is setting, it shines right in my eyes. Most mornings, I hurry inside after my run to wake the kids up and eat a powerbar while emptying the dishwasher with the other hand.
The truth is, I hardly spend any time out on the front porch.
But there was this night, a few years back, when my best friend and I left the kids in the house and sneaked out there. It was July, and we sat and watched the sunset, our backs settling into the sun-warmed concrete floor. We talked long enough that the crickets started their song, the sprinklers came on and turned off again, and the stars filled the sky.
I dream of recreating that night. Sometimes I take my book out when the kids are doing who the heck knows what in the playroom, and steal ten minutes of reading time. I dream about tossing out the hard white chairs putting a daybed out there, so my hipbones wouldn’t dig into the floor when I read.
But even if I had the swanky day bed, I probably wouldn’t hang out there any more than I already do. Right now, my life isn’t a sitting on the porch kind of life.
My front porch is a lovely place. It’s a place where memorable, perfect nights happen, once every five years or so. But right now, the front porch is more an idea of a place than an actual place I enjoy regularly. I don’t think it’s untrue to call it my favorite place in the house. I know it’s there even though I don’t use it often. It brings me joy when I pull up in the driveway, and it reminds me that one day the stage in life will arrive when I can sit with
a mug of hot chocolate and watch the street greet the morning.
What is your favorite place? Is it a real place or an imaginary one? What do you think of the idea of having your favorite spot be one that at least as much a place in your mind as an actual physical presence?