There are few things that evoke deep emotion quite like our return to Home. Leaving to forge our own destinies feels, in the moment, like the freedom of the wind on the sea. They say there is nothing so constant as Time, and while our own changes may feel slow, going back to the house that raised us often makes clear how many years have passed.
Many historical homeowners, myself included, identify more as “caretakers;” the space bridging museum and sanctuary. The house develops its own persona, in many ways, the character developed over generations of ownership permeating modernity in quirky and unexpected ways.
It is a rare treat, then, to be able to meet someone who contributed to the home’s story. I had the pleasure of an impromptu visit from a previous owner who had grown up in my house from his childhood until he left for college. His family had owned the property for over 45 years, and I was honored and humbled to watch him take in the space as an adult.
Without revealing too much about his identity, he once shared our four bedroom, one bathroom home with his parents and four siblings. Reverently, he walked upstairs and told us stories about how his oldest sister had the best bedroom, and how they all jockeyed for closet space (as the upstairs has only 2). He told us about summer nights cooled by a humming attic fan and where the television used to sit in the living room.
As I mentioned before, it was an unannounced (but welcome!) visit, so I cringed a little when he asked to see the basement. Weaving his way over my daughter’s toys, he showed us the workshop, curated by his father over decades. We finally solved the mystery of the tiny paper tacked to the wall, advising us in all capitals to “ALWAYS JIG IT UP,” as his father was a furniture maker. When we offered it to him, he declined. Like so many artifacts, the note has become a part of the house.
Not least of all, he explained the presence of the 1909 piano in the basement. Although his sisters took lessons, ultimately they needed the floor space, so old Everett was relegated to the basement. We wondered if it was worth the effort: each of the cellar stairs had to be carved away to make room to move the upright piano. While we hardly noticed the repairs, it all but assures that the piano is one more thing that will remain forever.
After exchanging contact information, we found ourselves saturated with feelings: change and love and loss and growth and destiny. The way human lives weave together and apart has always fascinated me. I am so thankful to have met someone whose path has, if only through the halls of time, crossed mine in such a meaningful, if ephemeral, way.
I look forward to finding more stories to share, and to creating a life worthy of sharing.