Somewhere in a big city sits an old house.
Its current occupant lives lightly, her world condensed into four rooms on the ground floor. The dining table is covered with a lace tablecloth and then plastic to protect it, the wood well hidden. In the enclosed front porch, tiny green shoots grow in long planters. A statue of Jesus overlooks the dim living room, where she watches television, alone.
The second floor is entirely empty, light falling unobserved across the honey-coloured wood floors. Clues to previous lives persist – a closet that used to hold a water heater for the radiators, faded rainbow wallpaper in a bedroom, an empty red-and-white kitchen. In the back of the house there is a room filled with sun, windows on two sides. It is this room that made me fall in love.
An unassuming door in the second-floor hallway leads to a tiny staircase, its walls covered in ancient wallpaper. The attic is partially finished, one room painted in 60s mint green, the rest open to the bones of the house. I have always wanted such an attic. Behind the house stretches a long yard, dirt waiting for a garden, spanned by clotheslines. She must have been a great gardener once, growing tomatoes and hot peppers, then drying and canning in the basement. The garden remembers; it yearns for green again.
This house will be ours soon. I hope we can do it justice, treat it kindly, take care of it. I hope it will welcome and shelter us, a retreat from our lives out in the city, full of spaces to curl up and write in. I hope the elderly woman who is leaving it finds comfort in knowing a young family is receiving it from her, the first piece of land we have ever owned.
What drew you to the place where you live now? If you’re a homeowner, how did you feel when you bought your first house?