Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Unusual House

The house on Fourteenth Southwest was curious. It was painted battle ship grey and there was a brass ship’s railing around the front deck. Inside the front door, where the carpet was worn, there was a sheet of brass nailed to the floor. An old ship’s lantern hung in the dining room.  The oddest thing was the two large grey pallets which hung down below the regular siding on the south side of the house. Neither our real estate agent nor my engineer husband could explain the house’s unusual traits, but we had imagination, so we purchased it without these mysteries being solved.

Several days after we moved in, I went down to the daylight basement to do a load of wash. When I opened the door at the bottom of the stairs, it was pitch black. I peered through the gloom, wondering where the light had gone. When the solution revealed itself to me, I marched to the garage, grabbed a weapon and headed outside. With crowbar in hand, I began pulling those weird extra pieces of siding off. Tom heard the commotion and yelled out the back door, “What are you doing?”

“Letting in the light,” I yelled back, as a chunk of siding fell off at my feet, revealing the hidden window. The house was curious.

I never imagined when we bought the curious grey house that it would become a home. It was filled with powerful memories.

I opened the front door one day to find the red haired woman I had seen walking with her children. Mary Lou was a stay at home mom like me. Her twins were a year older than Sarah. She invited me over for coffee. We discovered a mutual love of books, nature and motherhood. Two doors down on the other side lived the Broomfield’s. They could be counted on for spontaneous trips for frozen yoghurt or Mrs. Fields’ Cookies, and many games of pinochle were played around our dining room table.

One summer day when I turned my back, two year old Sarah disappeared from the living room. I looked out the large picture window and there she was, walking the balance beam on the front deck railing. She was oblivious that the ground was twelve feet below. I signed her up for gymnastics.

Over the years, Tom and I did a number of projects to fix up the curious house. We painted the outside blue. We tore up the carpeting and the brass sheet from the living room floor. We swapped the ship’s lantern with a proper chandelier. The brass railing was replaced with the sturdy wood one which Sarah had walked that summer day. I day I went into labor with Robin, we replaced an outdated cast iron laundry sink.

Personal remodeling occurred there as well. Surrounded by love and friends, I battled the darkness of depression and, like removing the pallets from the boarded up windows, I became enlightened. I set my feet on the path to my career. I could never have imagined when we purchased the grey house it would become our home. A place of love and growth built with sweat and tears. It was indeed a curious house.

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