There you stood in your pale green frock with white trim, showing a little age but resolute and desirable still, ready for come what may. You embraced us when we walked inside, asked where we’d been, and so we knew we were yours.
We massaged your muscles and traced the contours in your bones with our fingers. When we climbed down, down, down into your lower extremities, you made us think about the workers who birthed you almost a century ago. And up, up, up inside your rafters, you gave us a lofty view of the landscape around us, now and then revealing a talisman here and there from times gone by. In between felt like home. You showed us warmth and strength in a landscape that tolerates no weakness.
That autumn you wasted little time beguiling us with your sleight of hand, first showing how the waning afternoon sunlight filters through your petite south-facing windows in a way that is utterly transporting, and then suddenly gone. And again, in the waxing days of spring, cascading through west-facing windows and spilling onto the staircase and the trim around it, lingering there long enough to take us back in time.
The sun shows your skin, gives one pause to contemplate the divots in it and wonder how the first family you sheltered, close to a century ago now, lived within these rooms. It was the Great Depression: Were they thinkers, dreamers, or toilers? And were they hungry? We left untouched the messages scrawled in your bowels, penned by unknown hands.
I played Bing for you, as I pledged I would, and Frank and Nat and Ella and Louis and so many others. Did they stir anything within your bosom, make you tap your slightly musty toes at all? In turn you sang for us joyously when we quickened our pace up and down your stairsteps and across your uneven floors. When the days grew short and a bite returned to the air, you reassured us with the tick-tick-tick of warm blood coursing through your veins. And when winter unleashed its full fury in the darkest hours of the coldest nights, you replied with a menacing shudder that first made us wary but finally simply underscored your mettle.
You showed us your scars and we hoped they were not too deep nor painful. We caressed them some and in the springtime scrubbed your face and gave you a new petticoat, and then you curtseyed, and rewarded us with an embarrassment of pink and yellow and lavender and orange and crimson blossoms. You yawned and stretched and glowed, settled with us among the small creatures in our outdoor sanctuary this season, or before the warmth of your hearth indoors that. We felt your contentedness.
It has been three years, eight months, and ten days since the ink dried on the papers. That day deserved an earthier, more spiritual ceremony than merely dotting I’s and crossing T’s; spitting on our palms and shaking hands, maybe. Not one to put on airs, you were the type who would appreciate that, I surmised.
A new family will soon make their home here, and they have been through some hard times. You have much to give them, as you have, generously, to us. Help them find the light and the love here as we have.
We were only passing through but will forever remember you, and the milestones we marked within and without your walls, with profound affection.