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Homeward Bound Memories

October 28, 1999|BOOTH MOORE

Who doesn't remember the feelings of loss that come from watching a moving truck, loaded with family belongings, pull away from the curb, turning a place that was once home into an empty shell?

The meaning of home--as a safe haven, a connection to the past and a place of new beginnings--is the subject of "Nesting: Tales of Love, Life and Real Estate," by Good Housekeeping columnist Lois Wyse (Simon & Schuster, $19.95).

Written in the tradition of Wyse's previous books ("Women Make the Best Friends," "Funny You Don't Look Like a Grandmother"), "Nesting" is a collection of short stories, poems and essays in which a diverse cast of characters muses about the practical dramas of houses.

A closet conjures up the image of a first prom dress, and backstairs stir up memories of being punished as a child with "timeouts." A parlor recalls afternoons spent with a sweet grandmother, and a graffiti-covered shelf brings to mind wild pajama parties.

"For many of us, home always remains that first family address, and it is inextricably tied into feelings for Mother, Daddy, grandparents, caretakers and siblings," writes Wyse. This explains the betrayal felt when a childhood bedroom is converted into a study, or why the sale of a family home can traumatize even after a child has grown up and left: "How could her parents do that to the family?" reads a story. "How could her parents be grandparents if they didn't have a family house?"

The conclusion reached by the writer of these flowery, feel-good stories is that whether it's a city high-rise, a rural cottage, a cookie-cutter tract house or a mansion, home is much more than four walls and a front door. But you already knew that.

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