On my way to work this morning I was listening to a song (Eliza Gylkison, "The Beauty Way") that triggered a set of memories about my old house. Pre-marriage, I lived in this sweet little 1940s bungalow, passed down as a rental from Meredith -- as it had passed from several friends to her -- in the now highly desirable Travis Heights neighborhood of Austin. It was the last deal in Austin and the dog on the block, but I loved it.
My house was more than the sum of its parts: pier-and-beam construction with a crumbling stucco facade, sweet built-in corner cabinets in the dining room, a sunny-yellow kitchen that got too hot in the summer, original hardwood floors, a floor furnace that you had to carefully step over in the middle of the night on your way to the bathroom, and 900-ish square feet of affordable ($550ish), cozy space that was the backdrop to countless experiences.
As that song played this morning, a series of memories flashed through my mind as if I were flipping through snapshots in an album:
- Moving in day with the ex-boyfriend (EBF), giddy that we had a HOUSE to spread out in.
- My nephew's birthday party, with my family gathered in the small living room for cake and presents.
- Sitting at the dinner table with the EBF and realizing he didn't want to be there anymore (ouch).
- Hosting the ladies for our weekly happy hour on the front porch (Stephanie and Meredith were there!), drinking wine and talking.
- Cuddling with new dog Ginger (now 11) on the little purple couch after EBF left.
- Crying and drinking (sad!) copious amounts of red wine at night on the porch after EBF left, looking at the stars past the huge tree in the front yard, while listening to Eliza and Jeff Buckley blaring from the living room.
- Sitting frozen on the porch steps, letter from the landlord in hand. Afraid to open the new lease I knew was coming, then pure relief to read the apologetic notice of the $25 monthly rent increase.
- Opening the front door for first date with husband-to-be (excited!!!) -- on Valentine's Day, no less.
- Standing in the doorway the first time husband-to-be told me he loved me.
- Making space in the closet for husband-to-be's stuff, then the garage sale we had on the front lawn after consolidating households.
- Sitting on the bed in the front room, discussing marriage with the husband-to-be.
- And finally, moving out day, driving off to our "new" old house 5 miles down the road, where many more memories were waiting to be made.
So, looking at this list, it strikes me that while I loved the house itself, what made it so special were all the relationships that took place there -- some beginning, some ending, many deepening. [And just think -- there were decades of that going on before I ever moved in!]
Today that house is gone. It burned to the ground a week after we moved out and someone else had bought it and moved in. In its place, a colossal 3-floored Tuscan-esque structure was erected, towering over the little houses around it. But in my mind, I still see my old house in all its memory-filled glory.