In the Company of Houses

 My corner of town is rather quiet, save for the freight train that passes through about four times per day, the flock of birds that hovers every afternoon and makes me feel like I’m in a Hitchcock movie, the occasional drag racers up and down the street, the neighbors who are generally working on car repairs, or the faint sound of the U.S. Army artillery rounds. Okay, that doesn’t sound very quiet. But when you account for the fact that you can’t hear the highway from my house and it’s a small town, it really is much quieter than some of the places I have lived (not counting that year I lived down a dirt road in the woods).

When I look out my window I am reminded of the quietness. Near my house are three empty houses: one for rent, one that looks like it’s in the midst of repairs, and one with boarded up windows. It makes the block particularly dark at night. The odd thing is that I never really consider my block to be lonely. The houses keep my house company; I’d feel lonelier in the woods.

Truth be told, most people might be alarmed by their neighbors being only empty houses. After all, what does that say about the neighborhood?  As for me?  I like these houses.  Maybe it’s because I am a preservationist, but I get the feeling that the houses watch over me without being nosy neighbors. I like to glance out my window and see the colonial revival house. And the little vernacular one-story house next to it must have some secrets behind its boarded up windows.  The other house I cannot see unless I’m out for a walk, but it, too, is just waiting for some inhabitants. Stories are waiting to be discovered by the next owners.

I’m sure there are some interesting details to the stories – maybe unique woodwork, names scratched into floorboards, an old newspaper article, layers of paint, evidence of additions, etc. They look old enough to be considered historic, but the interior would answer lingering questions.

Somehow, I have so far resisted the urge to peek in the windows.  For now, I’m content to have the houses greet me when I come home from work, after a run, when I’m daydreaming, or sitting on the porch. These houses can be as mysterious as they like and I’ll admire from across the street. I don’t want to be the nosy neighbor. 

One thought on “In the Company of Houses

  1. Mom says:

    Something about this post leaves me feeling as though I have just begun a new novel; Shirley Jackson maybe. I want to know what happens next!

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