"I Want a House," by Yelena Bonner
2008 is coming to a close, and indeed it was quite a year. We have amazing opportunities ahead of us, and 2009 promises to be the absolute best for all of us.
Yelena Bonner, wife of the exiled Soviet physicist Andrei Sakharov. Bonner came to the United States for heart surgery and returned to the Soviet Union after six months in the U.S.
At a time when many are wondering just what home ownership means, I thought it appropriate on this Christmas Eve to share with you her powerful essay again. What is remarkable to me is that she truly understands the American Dream - home ownership -more than many Americans do.
I hope you send this on to those who have stood strong in the midst of falling stock market, currency crisis, foreclosures, short sales, media terrorism, and all the other craziness of the year.
God Bless you and yours this Holiday season,
Jorge and Anna Marie Parrott
"I Want a House," by Yelena Bonner.
I maintain that Americans do not want war. What Americans want is a house. No matter their place on the social ladder, they want a house of their own. They want a house and the ground it stands on, that's all.
The First Lady says that when the President retires, they will sell the house in which they lived before the Presidency. The children are grown, and the place is too big for them. So, they will buy a smaller house. A wonderful plan! The President doesn't want war, he wants a new house.
I also want a house, in addition to my usual wants that everyone be together and healthy, and that there be no war. A house with enough land around it for me to plant flowers. I don't need a lot of bedrooms, just one for us and one for Mother, a guest room, and one more so that I'm always ready for our Grandchildren. And I'd like a room where I could at last spread out my books, and Andrei could make a mess.
What nonsense I'm writing! I want a house! This is me, who should be counting the days, no, counting the hours of my freedom to do what I want.
But you know, I'm 63, and I've never had a house. Not only that, I've never had a corner I could call my own. After the war we had a room in a communal apartment - there were 48 people in that apartment and only one toilet. I think the first time I was mistress of my own place was, well, it's hard to believe, it was in Gorky, while we were in exile. I do not want that.
My Daughter has a house in Newton, Massachusetts. It makes me so happy to think that she has a house. Her family is caught up in our affairs, in our Gorky horrors and suffering. They have forgotten the pleasure of their house. I want them to go back to caring about it - it has done so much for them.
I want a house. My dream - my own house - is unattainable for my husband and myself, as unattainable as heaven on earth. But, I want a house. If not for me, then for my son and his family in America. My son and I plan to buy one. And, I am learning many new things. The house should be near good schools. My Granddaughter is three, and schooling is not far off in the future. It should be in the suburbs - vacations are short, and a child should not have to grow up in a polluted city. It should be close to work - both parents have jobs and there is only one car. It should have a foundation and basement. I have never known such considerations to exist. It should have three bedrooms so my mother can be with them, or at least visit. And, it should have a studio. My Son, Alyosha, needs a workroom for his mathematics.
A house is a symbol of independence, both spiritual and physical. Some own a tiny house, like a toy cottage with only the soil in their flower boxes. Others have lots of bedrooms, baths, and extensive lawns. The American feeling about his house expresses the main traits of Americans - the desire for independence and privacy. But that attitude gives rise to a third trait; "My house is my pride and joy."
And from that comes, "My city, my state, and my country is my pride and joy." It is an attitude that is open, kind, and caring, both toward the house and everything it stands for - the soil in the flower boxes and the lovingly tended lawn, even if it's only three yards square. And I say, this shows that Americans care about the land in general, and about the whole world.
I want, I want, I want. More than the children, I want a house. But, it's time for me to pack my bags. The children live here, I live over there. What difference does it make if Gorbachev and Reagan meet in June, or any other month? Americans don't want war, they want a house. I don't want war, I WANT A HOUSE.