Saturday, March 12, 2011
My new, old house
The envelope was addressed to "Occupant." It was from California. I know no one in California.
I was in a bad mood. I'd dealt with annoying, stupid things at work all day. And now this.
I opened it suspiciously but as the contents slipped out, my mood changed completely. There was a picture of my house. Well, it was my house, but not quite. There was no front door. No stoop. No neighbors. Not even a road. It was my house, when it was still being built, back in the 1940s.
There was a letter too. It was from the man who'd lived here as a boy. He'd been going through old photos and thought maybe whoever lived here would be interested.
Interested? Uh, just a little! Over the next weeks and months, I emailed the man repeatedly, begging for more photos, asking questions about the house. I love old houses in general and mine in particular. I think they have stories, secrets, souls. And here was my chance to discover a few.
That was several years ago. I recently got those photos out and looked at them. I love them beyond words. My house is so familiar to me. It's so much a part of me. And seeing this makes me feel that I'm seeing a part of my own history—a part of me that I was vaguely aware of but had no way of exploring. I feel that I'm really there. It's decades before I was born of course, but I'm there, in the beginning. And at the same time, I'm here now. Thanks to this incredibly generous stranger, the story of my house is so much clearer now. It had a happy beginning. And it has a happy present. And, if I have anything to say about it, it will have a happy future.
Posted by Jill Holly et al. at 9:08 PM