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Monday, October 31, 2005

 

Inhabitants

This week I want to make a coffee date with a friend of a friend who lives down the street. She's apparently lived in the same house her entire life (I believe she's in her 40s), and has offered to fill me in on the history of the neighborhood, as well as some community organizations with which she's involved.

I can't imagine living in the same house you grew up in. How could you make it your own, here and now, and not just the place you lived as a child? To cook in the kitchen where your parents cooked for you, to sleep (let alone have sex) in the bedroom that was your parents' bedroom, to sit in the study that used to be your bedroom and really believe it's a study, not your bedroom dressed up as something else?

We're only the third occupants of our house, which is remarkable since it was built in 1920 - the same family lived here from 1920-2000. I think about all the years of life that have taken place here, the dreams secretly held, the frustrations, the fights, the love expressed or unexpressed. The mundane rituals. This may sound kooky, but sometimes I can feel the presence of former residents' lives, like an invisible but weighty impression, a thumbprint, a footprint. Sometimes I wish I could claim the space for us and us alone, without the clutter of history - but other times living in this big old house with 85 years of history makes me feel connected, like I am part of something with a long past and a future stretching out ahead.

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