It never hurts to ask
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.