To the Current Resident

I am sure you might be wondering why I am writing you.  I wondered a bit myself, but I try and follow my gut and it told me it wouldn't be a bad idea.

Every time I move into a new home I wonder about it.  What would the walls say if they could talk?  When I leave, I find myself wanting to leave a note, "You home was filled with love and laughter".  Yours was.  I hope it still is.

My Mom and her four siblings grew up in your house.  I have often wondered how they all fit.  I suppose you do what you have to.  My Mom tells me stories about when she was younger.  The front yard was filled with Pine Trees.  It was different when I was little.  But I am getting side tracked.

I am "grown up" now.  I have been in and out of the service and am married to a Sailor.  We have two kids, a little boy and a baby girl.  We also have two dogs.  The all American family, and what would the All American Family be without a dream?  So we just bought a house.

I never dreamed of coming out West.  It seemed fascinating, but not something that tugged at me.  Now we are in Nevada.  My husband works at Top Gun.  His family lives an hour South and I love it here.  It is such a contrast to the quilted fields of Illinois.  There is color and life here, just not what I grew up loving.  It is beautiful in its own unique style.

We were blessed to get the house we did.  It is close to friends.  Big enough to grow into.  It fits us now and will fit us later.  It is perfect for entertaining and we love to have BBQ's and company.  But it is a new house.  Built in 2005- I am not complaining!  We don't have to worry about structural issues and we know there will be a while before we really have anything to worry about... But I miss the hardwood floors and crown molding.  New homes do not have the character that older homes have.  I miss it.

We moved to Illinois when I was in First Grade.  We drove from Virginia when my Dad got out of the Navy.  I remember when we pulled into the driveway.  It must have been the wee hours of the morning.  Everything was quiet.  There were no other cars.  I looked up to see the angled brick entryway and grey blue shingles and thought the little window next to the chimney made the house look like something out of a Grimm's Fairy Tale book.  I was terrified.

When I got up the next day I explored more.  The Carters still lived in the house next door.  They also lived there when my Mom was little.  Their whole front yard was a garden.  It was incredible.  They use to let me walk around in their garden and tell me secrets about the flowers.  Like when you turn a Bleeding Heart upside down, it looks like a lady in an old bathtub.  I was convinced there was magic there.  But there was.  There is always magic where life is loved and nurtured.

To the left of the chimney was a big pine tree.  It was surrounded by lava rock. (I thought it was magical also.  How did lava rocks get to Illinois?  A first grader hardly understands buying it at a store, so magical it will stay.) Then there were larger flat rocks surrounding the tree bed.  I tried not to walk on that side of the house unless I was going to the Carters.  The pine needles hurt my bare feet and I was convinced the "cave" under the front steps had dead bodies.  I read a lot as a child.

On the right side of the porch, in front of my bedroom, was another magical garden.  I loved it.  There were so many unique plants but the one I will always remember is Lambs Ear.  I don't know if that is the correct name, but that was what it was called.  It was a mint green leaf covered in velvety grey hairs.  It looked and felt like it could have been an ear of some kind.  I have traveled the world and never had the pleasure of seeing it since then.  My husband and I stumbled upon some last week.  I was so excited when I saw it.  My  amazing husband said he is going to buy some for our new house.

In the front part of the yard, on the right, was a funny little tree.  I thought it was the kind that the bark peeled off and you could pretend it was paper, but it wasn't.  The trunk was white with spots.  There were delicate flowers underneath.  It was a jungle when I played with my Barbies outside.  There were saber tooth tigers that lived there.  If the Barbies weren't careful it could have been tragic.  There were also two big trees on the city part of the yard.  I haven't been to Champaign in years, but I believe they have been cut down.  It is a shame.  I love neighborhoods with lots of trees.

In the back yard there were big orange flowers.  I thought fairies slept in them.  If you look to the top of the big tree in the back yard, you might see a flag/rag.  When my Uncles were little they climbed to the top.  I wish I would have also.

I loved the hard wood floors in the house.  They were so welcoming.  The big fireplace was one of my favorite spots.  I use to lay on the rug and read in front of the fire.  Are there still French doors in the living room?  I thought they were beautiful and let so much light in... but I didn't understand why they were there since it just dropped and there were no steps.

I loved the "diamond" door knobs with the key holes.  I use to collect old keys hoping to find the one that would match my door so maybe I could lock it to keep my little sisters out.  My little brother was just a baby.  I didn't have to worry about him.  If you weren't careful, you would accidentally pull the door knob off.  Instead of it being frustrating, I loved putting it back together.  I felt smart like my Daddy.  This little girl worshiped her fathers ingenuity.

There was a big solid wood door that shut the hall way to the bedrooms and bathrooms.  It was so heavy and hurt like the dickens when it ran over your foot.  It had a giant mirror on it.  I thought the mirror would take me back in time or maybe to Narnia.  I remember crying into the mirror when the back to my earring fell off.  I had just gotten my ears pierced and we were fighting to get the ear ring back in my ear.  Oh, it hurt.  We use to open the hall door half was and then the closet door.  We would pull the blankets down in the closet and make a nest in our door fort.

At the top of the stairs (to the right) was a funny little closet?  Crawl space?  I made that my reading cave.  I loved how the light from the windows shined in and it was small enough and a bit creepy.  It was perfect to read my Nancy Drew books in.  The little half bath in the attic had old newspapers in it.  When I say old, I mean old.  The ladies still sported corsets.  They were probably remakes but it still added some charm to the old house.  At one point my sister and I had our room in the attic.  My Parents were nice enough to give me the walk in closet as my space.  I had my desk and American Girl stuff in there.  Once, I tried cleaning the bathroom.  I used too much soap and water so my sister and I turned it into a slip and slide.  I don't remember if we got in trouble... but we laughed.

There was a wood pile in the back yard.  If you touched the stove and fridge at the same time you would get shocked.  There were paneling in the attic you could pull out and hide things in.  Once a squirrel broke into our house at Christmas time.   The basement scared me but there were boxes with treasures in them so I would toughen up to explore.  Our play room was in the part of the basement with the tile floors.  There was a bar in the back I would do homework at.

There was magic in that house.  It was the magic of imagination.  It was the magic of love.  It was a happy home.  I write you this because sometimes it is good to hear things like that.  Sometimes it is good to forget about the dishes and laundry and oh my gosh,how long has it been since someone emptied the bathroom trash, and look around and see the beauty we forget about day to day.

I am sure a lot has changed since I lived there.  Change is good.  It is your home now and has embraced you and molded to you.  I sincerely hope you find laughter there.  That when you pull in after a long day of work or school you see how beautiful it is.  I hope you know there is a girl, who had traveled the world, and every time she sees a house with an angled brick entryway she smiles.  Take time to crawl into that funny closet at the top of the stairs and read a book.  Just take time and be happy.  We all rush too much in this short life of ours.

Yours Truly,

Whitney McConnell

No comments:

Post a Comment