Monday, May 08, 2006

It never hurts to ask

Mr. Half and I bought this house when we married and during the 8 1/2 years we lived there, it was also home to all of our sons. We outgrew it quickly and though we were glad to move into a larger house with potential for the additions and modifications we've provided, it never changed the way we felt about our first house.

We take the kids by occasionally...just to see what's been done. The neighborhood is certainly one we'd never consider living in now and the young family/retired and elderly/seminary student population that once resided in these houses is gone. Still...the house bears the marks of our having been there.

The book ledge that wraps around all four walls of our old bedroom-- the shelf near the ceiling--was built by Mr. Half for our overflow books that were weighing down the floor-to-ceiling shelves in the livingroom, kitchen, and dining room. The skylight in the kitchen with shelves for plants was also something we put in. The backyard has an old greenhouse--again by Mr. Half--that eventually became a toolshed. Someone painted the nursery, but if they were to scrape away the paint on the ceiling they'd find a sky blue surface studded with beautiful clouds.

Today I sat down and wrote a letter to the owner...a person I've never met nor spoken to. I told him about the truck Mr. Half had in college and how, when he got rid of it, he took a blowtorch and cut out a piece of the fender in the shape of a big heart and gave it to me. I used it in my garden and around the potted plants in the back. Some toddler hands must have thoughtfully put it someplace else, because when we moved to this house 11 1/2 years ago we realized it was missing. I know where it is. It's in that old backyard...lost in the monkey grass under the bathroom window or in the wild iris. Or buried in the flowering Vinca. I told the owner of our old home about the people from whom we bought it and how they hated to sell it and how we loved it totally until it was our turn to leave. It's a happy house with some good karma. I told him about the gift made for me by my romantic husband and how I wondered if anyone had come across a rusty piece of metal in the shape of a heart.

Maybe he'll think I'm a nut and throw the letter into the trash, along with the picture of the house when we sold it and a couple of shots of the interior when we lived there. But maybe--just maybe--he's a happy man living a contented life in a house that makes him feel good. Maybe the house I described to him is one which continues to provide shelter and love. And that feeling will inspire him to dig around in the backyard weeds and then sit down to send a reply.
You never know.

19 Comments:

Anonymous lildb said...

This post makes me want to give that bastard (the one who told you to keep your posts shorter) a knuckle sandwich.

Your writing really gets into my head. I see so many wonderful images while I'm traversing through your words. It's a beautiful, shivery feeling. I really dig it.

My favorite thing about this particular piece is the bookshelf lining the four walls of your old bedroom, because the other ones were groaning from their weight. Really, really nice.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

You are absolutely right. The worst is that you would never hear back.

The best would be getting that heart, rust and all, back into your posession.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Lucky Lum said...

I feel like there's some connection between the families that have occupied the same home.
There's always a part of them still in the house..

8:54 PM  
Blogger Annie, The Evil Queen said...

I would love to get that letter if I was living in your old house. let's hope this guy feels the same. Let us know what happens.

9:19 PM  
Anonymous sheryl said...

I hope the recipient of your letter finds the heart and gives it to you and Mr. Half.

Thank you for sharing your connection with this place. I've not yet had such an experience of home. But I hope to.

10:15 PM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

Nice post about the way we occupy a house and it also occupies us.

My first house went through several owners after we left it, one owner beat his wife and the police were always being called, a later owner turned out to be a drug dealer! So sad to learn a place we had cherished had been overcome by violence and heartache. E had built a garden shed in the back, fenced the yard for our dogs, built a deck, and lovingly landscaped the whole thing....

2:54 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I'd invite you over to see the place if I were living there now. We're in our first house now and I know I'll be sad to leave it when we outgrow it (it's pretty small as it is)!

4:38 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Wordgirl, you've outdone yourself AGAIN with this post. I often wonder about the people living in places where I used to live...there's something magic about a place where you've spent so much of your life. It takes on a historic quality, doesn't it? Good for you for writing that letter. Hopefully, the person living there now will understand, and will get a kick out of knowing a bit of the history of the place.

5:34 AM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

I love that you wrote the letter. I think that's so cool. I'd love to get a letter like that.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

I don't know which made my heart tremble more, the fact that Mr.Half made you a heart from a loved car, or that you wrote a letter to a complete stranger 11 years later trying to find that cherished piece of scrap metal. What a great post.

8:18 AM  
Anonymous LetterB said...

Oooh - i'm so excited to see how this turns out. Last summer my husband and I were in my hometown for one day. We went to my childhood home and knocked on the door. Nobody was there. I was so sad. I would have given anything to be able to go inside that house one more time.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

"This post makes me want to give that bastard (the one who told you to keep your posts shorter) a knuckle sandwich." Wait... How did I miss that?! If he thinks the posts are too complicated to read, perhaps he should try out something more his level. Like DrSeuss? :D

I hope the people living there respond. I'd go out hunting for it the moment I finished your letter!

12:05 PM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

What a sweet post. I lived in my first house with my husband for 4 years. We didn't have kids yet, but it was still so sad to leave it. We are now in a new house with a new baby and growing to love it.

I hope the new owner of your house appreciates the letter. I know I would.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Lianne said...

I think we under estimate the effect a home can have on us. I know that I dream of my childhood/adult home at least 5 or 6 times a month. It is absolutely in my cells.

Thank you for reminding me that our hearts are big enough to hold not only people, but special sacred buildings.

2:18 PM  
Blogger aka Brandi said...

Oh, I so hope it's still there and you see it again. When I think of all the love we left at our last house, it actually hurts to think of the new owners casting it aside without a thought.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Irene said...

beautiful post...

12:47 PM  
Blogger Nap Queen said...

I would love to get such a letter and would probably cry and then invite you over for coffee. I love knowing the history of living spaces. It fascinates me.

7:48 AM  
Anonymous Daxohol said...

So romantic you are. Java the Hut I am not.

Beautiful post...

7:27 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

I somehow missed this post the first time around and I wanted to tell you I intend to do this for the buyer of our house. I think it is a wonderful idea to share the happy memories that hopefully still echo in the house for whomever will live in it when you are gone.

11:24 AM  

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