The House Across the Street

Part I

The house across the street is formidable, grand. It is solid as a pound cake, a huge layered one too heavy to lift. All of the old-world relatives stand ’round while you sit in your little wooden chair and eat, thinking you may never need or want to eat again after this.  But the house–it is a house deliciously decorated as if piped with firm frosting, perfectly painted–each turned wooden spindle and carved rosette, the wide window trim and adorned dormers. This was a house built to last and of course it has, and for well over a hundred years though it shows no sign of age other than its style.

I imagine that a sea captain built this house, grateful to be back on solid ground after many years spent tossed on the ocean. The last storm was a close call; he prayed he would see his wife and daughter again, and swore to God that he would never set sail again if he survived. When he did return to his beloveds, he built the sturdiest, most comfortable structure that the highly skilled artisans and craftsmen of the day could construct. Money was no object. But alas, he died before the home was finished, never fully recovering from the respiratory ailments that plagued him since his last night on that cold wave-washed deck, the night he spent praying in the torrents of rain in the inky darkness of a storm at sea.

Or, maybe a Civil War general built the house, military in its precision, defensive in its strength.

In front there is a garden of sorts, a center walkway flanked by bushes and accented with perennials. Symmetrical and groomed, it is the perfect accompaniment to this proud place.

Part II

I like to look out my windows and upon this house, solid and well kept. It gives me a feeling of stability somehow. It’s old, it’s proud, it’s beautiful. I am much younger of course, so if it can be so beautiful and so proud, of course I can be, too. (I realize that I am personifying, but I do that sometimes. I have a sense of connectivity and of course what I am really connected to is what the house represents as part of my community.)

One day I noticed a For-Sale sign in front of the house, which immediately caused me qualms. The house had, according to the realtor, been “lovingly and meticulously restored”.  It would be of the utmost importance that someone with taste and care come into possession. Imagine this house in the wrong hands! I didn’t want to think such dreadful thoughts, so instead I imagined the new owners:

They needed to be wealthy and as there was nothing remotely wild about this residence, they would likely be understated and maybe a bit stuffy. They would be educated and philanthropic conservators whose children were grown and who enjoyed dining at home, stocking the wine cellar, and tending the gardens.  He wears a blue sports jacket to dine and she has her platinum hair cropped short and coiffed weekly. They wear smiles as accessories and drink bourbon or scotch before dinner most nights. He is only semi-retired and likes to sail and play golf. She golfs a little but has several volunteer functions to chair before going to the shore for a week with their friends who will all be taking turns visiting them for weekends at the house, or The House, as they’ll call it.

I thus consoled myself that the house would be well cared for. I was too busy to keep track of the comings and goings of realtors and interested parties, but it wasn’t long before the For-Sale sign was replaced by a Sold one.

It seemed an eternity before there was any noticeable activity. The quiet was unsettling, the house was lonely.

I was eating breakfast last week in an uncharacteristic walk about the kitchen, cereal bowl in hand, when movement out the window caught my eye. Three small children were scurrying down the driveway of the house across the street. Behind them was a woman, thin and spritely, and then a tall man who stopped, hands on hips, to survey the area from the driveway, level with the face of the house. His house.

One small cherub tripped on the sidewalk, the angel-mother brushed her off, and the Atticus-Finch father stooped to inquire as to the degree of bruising. The children ran to and fro, no doubt exhilarated by the fresh air and the spaciousness afforded them in and out of such a fine home, and then the family drove off in their station wagon.

The young family has not yet moved in but their 82-inch flat-screen T.V. has been delivered. I imagine there is room in the house for a movie room, and the curtains are deep royal blue or burgundy velvet, just like in a real movie theatre…

I think that I will make them some chocolate-chip walnut cookies.


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