I grew up in a very old house, and often imagined as a kid that all sorts of scary things must have happened in that house. We moved into the old place when I was around 9 years old. We were told that the previous owner’s husband had died in the “big room upstairs”. That room was to become my older sister’s room (she was 16 at the time). My brother and I came up with the story that we could hear breathing in that room. My now sister’s room also had the sinister attic opening that led to the nether regions of the house. Certainly something awful must occupy that space above her room as well.
Aside from the little brothers terrorizing our sister, the house had a gravity about it…a real sense of place, of sincerity, of history that no new place with mere sheet rock and cheap carpet could provide. To be sure, there were probably environmental hazards of living in the 1904 dwelling. Asbestos? No problem…lead paint? Very durable. Who knows what disease is percolating within my tissue because of my residing there for the better part of 10 years, but it was so worth it, whatever befalls me. Those were a great 10 years, with old mahogany paneling gracing various rooms, cork flooring in a hallway upstairs, and the classic “cowboy and Indian” wallpaper adorning my brother’s room when we moved in. Cedar lined closets and old hot water radiator heating in each bedroom were clanky and smelly and at the same time wonderful.
One of my favorite parts of that old house was not what was inside, but what was outside. Two majestic maple trees sprawled between the sidewalk and the lazy Anderson street. Having been planted probably around the time the house was built, they towered over the landscape at least 75 feet. The shade, the rustling leaves, the falling leaves, the red and orange and green leaves, the majesty they provided will never be forgotten.
Now, some almost 35 years later since having moved out of my childhood home I find the same love of place, the same warmth in the hand hewn plank floors, the undersized closets, the giant inefficient furnace built to outlast me, the spookiness of the downstairs (basement I would call it, although Anna disagrees, calling it “the downstairs”). We still have some single pane windows left in the house, with no plans of replacing them. We will wear a sweater when we need to, remembering the workmanship that someone put into crafting those windows just for this house, unlike some of the other windows in the house that are probably repeated in thousands of homes. Our house has many of the modern efficiencies expected in this day. We don’t beat our laundry in the creek that is for sure, and the dishwasher’s name is Frigidaire, not Mabel. We installed a solar array and now produce more electricity than we consume. We have a landscaping that requires very little water. We have LED lights and solar lighting all over the place. We even have a high speed electric car charger (electric car not included…yet). We even have a giant California native oak tree in our back yard that keeps the hillside firm and gives the whole property strength against the elements, whatever those might be.
It is home.