Thursday, December 9, 2010
I asked David a few weeks ago why moss was growing on the roof of the house next door. He said that when a house sits empty for a long time, with no heat on inside of it, moss will grow on the roof. Nothing is warming the roof from within. That struck me as sort of spooky. It also made me sad. My neighbor Barbara, who used to live right next door to me, lost her home to foreclosure. She had been unable to keep her head above water after her boyfriend moved out, and she then lost her job. She had stopped paying the mortgage over 4 years ago. She stayed in it for a bit, and had to move out only because she could not afford to keep the utilities on. She had no water. She packed up her things, and took her teenage son, and left. She gave us the keys, and told us to take whatever we wanted. I took a cake stand. She had always made us the best coconut cakes, and always brought them over in a glass stand, with a cover. I loved it. She left it behind, so I took it. I felt bad walking around her empty home. She couldn't afford movers, so she left everything behind. Furniture, and dishes. Rugs, and candles. Everything that makes a house, a home, was abandoned. David and I didn't feel right about taking anything. It made us uncomfortable. But when I saw the cake stand, it reminded me of too many good things. I proudly display it, and love when I bake a cake, and place it under it's domed cover. I think of Barbara.
I see her house everyday. I can see it from Charlotte's bedroom. It sits, empty. Moss is covering the roof. Weeds and baby oak trees are growing from the gutters. Feral cats come and go from under the deck. There is a black one, with yellow eyes, that I see, daily. We exchange glares. I dislike that cat. He is sneaky, and up to no good. He has run across the street, in front of my car on more than a few occasions. David found a dead squirrel last week, with it's eyeballs missing, right by our front deck. I don't feel compelled to put food or water out for that cat. He can take care of himself just fine.
I see Barbara's house everyday. When I see it, I get angry. It has been empty for years. No one from the bank has ever come to look at it. No notices posted. No padlocks. I often wonder how long she could have lived in that house for, before they came and made her get out. I think she would still be there today. Yet it sits. It is quiet all day, and it is hauntingly dark at night. I think about what it looks like inside the house now. Spiderwebs, and probably mice. Maybe the cats have gotten in by now. Has rain water come in? How do the rays of the sun look, in each room? I often find myself following the sun around my own home. The light here is brilliant. It rises and shines in my kitchen windows, and splatters it's squares of light everywhere. I follow it from room to room sometimes.
I have begun to think about what my home will look like when we are gone. Sometimes, when it is just Molly and I here, and she is napping, I listen to how quiet it is. I look at the light, and where it lands around the house, and think about how it will always shine in these various spots around the house, long after we are gone. I have begun to notice all the things in my house, these last few days, that have made it a home. It has made me angry, because I don't want to be forced out of here. It has made me wonder how much time we have here. It has made me question why the bank just won't work with us, and take a payment we can afford, instead of eventually allowing moss to grow on the roof.
It has made me want to appreciate every little nook and cranny of it. Floors, walls, doors, and all. My life became whole here. I don't want to forget any of it.