An Ode to My Front Porch
How I reclaimed the lost art of porch-sitting
It was love at first sight.
I’d seen other porches during our whirlwind tour of prospective houses, but this was by far the best front porch. This porch was no hasty afterthought. It was the central defining feature of this small, old home, tucked behind a tangle of wisteria.
As I stepped onto the porch, I felt immediately engulfed in green. Later, I would joke that I had found my own private jungle in the middle of the Pacific Northwest.
My partner and I dutifully toured the rest of the house, but that front porch had me at hello.
Growing up, I never had a porch. I spent my childhood in San Francisco, and San Francisco doesn’t really do porches. Most homes have stairs leading up to a narrow slab of concrete that would best be described as a “stoop.” We never sat on our stoop. Back before climate change, San Francisco was generally too brisk and blustery for pastimes that involved sitting outside.
When I moved from San Francisco to New England for college, one of the first things I noticed was the abundance of porches. In late August and early September, shortly after I arrived, off-campus parties spilled onto these porches, where the humid air stayed warm late into the night. There, surrounded by other red-plastic-cup-clutching freshmen, I saw my new life unfolding.
The cold started nipping at the edges of the night just a few weeks later, and the porches stayed empty until May.
The first off-campus house I rented had an ample porch; there, my seven roommates and I converged on rare warm days. We once stole our neighbors’ porch furniture, for fun, thinking we would make a game of it. Alas, they never retaliated.
I didn’t know then to treasure that porch. After I graduated, a series of porchless apartments awaited me, first in New England, then in Washington, D.C. Sometimes, I appreciated the sense of detachment afforded by second- and third-floor balconies, enjoyed watching the bobbing tops of people’s heads as they passed by unaware. But mostly, I missed the intimacy and immersion of a front porch.
When my partner and I bought a condo in Washington, D.C., its spacious…