Do Houses Remember?

Snow is falling, again. Arctic air brings cold temperatures which freezes my plumbing…again…so I take a walk. Helps me process thoughts and get exercise and avoid gathering estimates on repairs and thinking about the inevitable bursting of the same pipe that froze and was repaired last month. Music from my ipod blasts through the earphones and when the rhythm finally gets going both in my head and with my pack, the dogs and I walk in harmony on the slippery sidewalks.

(Trip walks behind my feet, so he doesn’t show up in these forward facing photos)

Today’s path led us up and around my neighborhood and we passed by a house that sits on a hill at an angle looking down on a slope of street. We’ve passed this house hundreds of times on foot, hundreds by car. I even went and looked at it and was inside when I moved back here in late ’95 but was not entranced by its somewhat utilitarian look and warren of small rooms and low ceilings.

Frequently when I touch base with my father, who is nearly 84, he imparts the sad news that another friend has died. It makes me sad that he is losing his peer group, but grateful he is still active, healthy, independent and always interesting to talk to — about politics, weather, relatives, whatever we stumble upon in conversation.

Last week his good friend Mel died. Mel and his wife Carolyn had lived in this house where they raised their children. I bet they lived in the house at least 30 years. I know Mel was a very dear friend with a very long history with my parents — they had been in a bookclub together for decades. A bookclub in which membership continues to fall from death, illness, and moves far away but is still an active part of the remaining members.

On that walk as I passed that house I thought about Mel and Carolyn — what I could remember of them. I imagined Mel driving up the angular and quasi steep driveway (something really noticeable when snow covers it) and wondered as the wind whipped and light snow fell if a house knows. If a house knows when a longstanding inhabitant has passed on.

Then I hurried home.