I've written this letter in my head a million times over the past few years. I'll never send it, but there are things I need to say to you, even if you never hear them.
The house you live in now was my home for 18 years. Everything I remember of my childhood happened in that house. And every time I'm in town, I have to drive by, just to make sure the house is still okay. Sorry if I worry you or scare you. I'm harmless, I swear. I just have to know you're taking care of it. And you are. You seem to truly love the house as we did. So, here are some things you should know.
The toilet clogs every couple of years. Tree roots get into the pipes. Though, you've lived there a few years, so you probably know that.
When I lived in that house, the living room, dining room, and kitchen were all separate rooms. In fact, when we first moved in, the kitchen was where the laundry room is now. Over the years, my parents put their blood, sweat, and tears into making it more like the home you now own. The way it looks now is the way they wanted it to look, but could never afford to make it a reality. Enjoy it.
The garage you park your car in was once just a car port. Later, my dad closed it in and for years, it housed his piano repair business. The best picture I have of him is standing in front of the sliding door with the business name and phone number on it. He was happy that day. The sun was shining, and his depression wasn't bad that day. He looked as he always did back then - collared, button-down shirt, blue jeans, crew cut. He was tall and skinny, and the grey hadn't begun to touch his temples yet.
The front yard is lined in evergreens that we planted Each year at Christmas, we bought a baby tree and planted it near the curb. We always decorated those trees at Christmas time, and that tree line marked the edges of the dogs' play area. They created this wonderful, peaceful privacy from the street. In the winter, they blocked the wind, and in the summer, they provided glorious shade. Enjoy that.
Those weren't my favorite trees, though. My favorites were the purple-leaf plums in the center of the yard. My mother hated those trees and always talked about digging them up and replacing them with bradford pears, but she never did. And I was so glad. Those trees are the backdrop of my first prom pictures with the boy that would later be my husband. Those are the trees that my mother chased my sister and me around so many times, all of us giggling so hard we could hardly see.
The back yard was our refuge. My parents built the fence, and later we would have dogs who would try to climb it. That backyard was home to dozens of dogs over the years, as well as a few rabbits, and for a brief time, a pygmy goat. Our favorites of those dogs are buried behind the shed. My sister and I destroyed the bushes along the fence line, trying to create a play-space where there wasn't one. I'm sure it has grown back in by now, but for years, there was a huge hole. In one of those bushes, the mourning doves always built their nests. Their calls were the soundtrack of my childhood.
I could go on and on. I could tell you a hundred stories about each square inch of that house and the yard. Part of me still mourns the loss of that space as my own. I'm trying to accept that you live there now. But occasionally, I will still wonder how my old house is doing, and I will drive by, and slow down, holding back tears as the memories rush in.
And then, I will see you, a beautiful family with two young girls, loving the house I love, and it will help, just a little.
So, I ask this of you - love this house. It's a good house, and if you let it, it will take good care of you.