A house can seem very different than it used to be when its history changes. I realized this as we were getting my husband’s house (formerly his parents’ home)ready to rent. One tenant had moved out and we were getting the usual cleaning and maintenance done before a new tenant could move in. It was then it hit me how one’s perceptions of a house has much more to do with the memories you made in the house than with the house itself.
Take the room in this picture, for example. It’s the family room of the house in Carmel Valley. My father-in-law was the architect who built it. That is his desk to the left of the fireplace. It was his office, but it was also where I and our friends we brought up to visit often gathered at night after the old folks had gone to bed. We talked around a fire in that fireplace, sang, teased each other, and deepened our friendships. Now that room is bare. It holds no laughter. It is just a room to clean and repair for the next occupants.
When my husband inherited the house, we had a huge job in clearing it out and making repairs. We hired a helper to live on site so he could do the work and receive deliveries, etc. We would go there on weekends to work, and even had a few beds and kitchen things and chairs we kept there so we could feed ourselves and take breaks.
I have many memories of that transition time. No one had lived there since my in-laws died, and their stuff was still there until we got it cleared, little by little. A lot of what we sorted through held memories, and other discoveries helped us know my husband’s parents a bit better. We spend a couple of weekends, at least , just going through the boxes and boxes of receipts my mother-in-law had stored in a closet. She had saved every receipt she ever got in boxes filed by year — even grocery receipts — during the time they lived there. We couldn’t just throw them away because there were some receipts we might need.
During those work weekends, we sometimes enjoyed Larry’s grilled dinners. He was the handyman on site. He did wonderful things with a Weber, but all he had here was an old wheelbarrow. He attached a grill top and cooked all kinds of meats that were delicious. We bought the meat and he cooked it. There were memories of paint smells, tarps on the floor, plumbing repairs, etc. during that time, but also just getting used to putting the house in the hands of new people who would live there.
When we finally rented it, the new tenant became like a friend. If my husband had to come up to do something on the property, she usually invited him in and gave him a snack — just as we had fed her when she came to look at the house after work one night before she rented it. She was there for years, and then she left and the house is empty. I’ve only been there once since then, and I’ve no desire to go back. There are many repairs to be made again and lots of cleaning. We have hired people to do the work, but my husband often has to go there to supervise and pay people.
I think my husband is still emotionally attached to the house because his father designed and built it. I’m no longer connected to it that way. For me, it’s become just another rental. It’s kind of sad.
Text and Photos Copyright 2013, B. Radisavljevic, All Rights Reserved
Image Credit » I took the photo.
Originally published at www.personapaper.com.