We — my family of seven — have moved to a new house in a new city. Though the physical act of moving is over we’re still not quite ourselves. Frankly, we never will be. We’re different now. I’ve moved enough to believe that, in time, these new differences will be mostly for the best. And I know “for the best” hardly ever means pleasant or easy.
One comfort I have as I and six other pieces of me venture into the more-than-ordinarily unknown every day is the house we have to come back to. Unlike all the other houses we’ve owned, this one was home to another family before us. They built it to suit their fancies and lived here for twenty-four years. Naturally, it’s a bit quirky — a bit haunted.
Here are some highlights.
This is the cold storage room which, as my father who was raised in a converted former funeral parlor explained to me when I was 4 years old, is the best place in the house to keep a dead person. It’s also got a rack for properly storing fur coats — at last.
Behind the furnace is the secret inner office. I’m not sure who used to work here but he was probably very easily distracted. No windows, lots of white noise, total privacy. No, I’m not using it as my office. I work in the laundry room, like a normal person.
Honestly, I’m just happy to be working sitting in a chair instead of leaning against the headboard of my bed, typing on a tea tray.
This is what let us buy the house at the price we probably would have paid if it was truly haunted. Everything here is finished in a light, strongly grained oak. In 1990, it was right on. In 2014, it is wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s so wrong the sellers’ (very bad) realtor offered a cash-back incentive to help new buyers rip it all out. We opted for a reduced price instead and will be keeping all the lovely once-living material a hardwood tree was sacrificed to provide. I like it fine and even if I didn’t, it’d be sick and tragic to waste it.
There’s more oak outside in the form of a still-living tree. It’s fertilized by the carcass of a dead dog lovingly buried at its base. What was the name of that grody Stephen King book? About the cemetery, with the pets?
Also outdoors is the virgin cedar deck. It’s never been stained or varnished and when it’s warm the whole backyard smells like a fancy new hope chest. Smell-writer loves it.
Formerly from outside is Sturgeon. He’s the sole survivor of the backyard pond. When a freak snow storm hit the first week of September, the boys couldn’t bear to leave him outside. Yes, we realize he is not a sturgeon but a goldfish (and we also realize a snow storm in September in Alberta is actually not freakish).
Here’s another new, accidental pet. This big, skinny spider has been hanging around watching the kids play video games in the basement ever since we got here. She commands too much respect for anyone to want to kill her and she refuses to step onto a sheet of paper so we can turn her loose in the outside world.
This might be our favourite thing about the new house. It’s a magic portal in the kitchen floor that sucks up dirt from an ordinary broom and hurls our filth into the void. It might be old technology to better housekeepers but I remain astounded by it.
When my dear barely-older-than-me brother — my childhood animus — came to help us unload the moving truck, he said this towering rock in the front yard was the only thing he envied. Let’s not psychoanalyse this any further.
And last of all the quirky and darling things I could include in the tour of the house that has consumed all my time, energy, and money for the last month, here’s a 17 foot tall neutral-coloured wall I have no idea how to decorate. Leave suggestions in the comments, I beg you.
With that, here’s to clean slates and new beginnings and all things desperately optimistic.