Surely this old house has seen its domestic drama. Its sturdy structure cannot eradicate the drama and pathos that cling to human beings and the dense clusters and knots we call ‘family’.
On May 31 of this annus horribilus my beloved departed this old house. I was abroad, through aware of the scenario that unfolded as my wife’s friends nudged their cars and their vans and their trucks into a driveway into which we had all nosed homeward on countless shared evenings.
No longer are mornings and evenings in this place a shared and common thing. She is gone and I am alone in this old house.
I struggle to keep up with the demands of the place. Walls and roofs not only shelter. They also insist and require.
A strange echo follows my footsteps into half-empty rooms where furniture, carpet, and human warmth once held the sounds we make to singular. Now voices rebound off the walls in strange compensation for the woman whose absence haunts this old house.
Perhaps eighty years under this roof have seen similar, painful, quiet drama. Perhaps not.
Her flowers still grow, each day more encased by weeds that I can barely distinguish from that chosen, beautiful thing we call flower. What is the difference between a hosta and a weed? I will learn, because I must.
Coffee stains, kitchen grease, freshly mown grass that clings to the company of the sneakers that have trudged through it, these things multiply, accumulate, testify to absence. They also demand, insist, require change and attention that was once an organic thing but must now be planned, premeditated, scheduled, even paid for.
This old house has its needs. They were not so apparent once.
Now they do not tolerate neglect.
We will need help, this house and I.