Another neighbor moved away yesterday. I watched her and her husband clean the place, haul their personal things to their car and watched the moving van drive up to take care of the rest.
(You must think I spend all my time spying on my neighbors. Well I do, actually. In between typing a word or two…)
Anyway, I brought her over a cutting from our jade plant which had grown from a cutting an old neighbor gave to me when we last moved.
“I hope it brings you good luck in your new home,” I said.
She was so moved she couldn’t speak.
“You’re having a hard time with this?”
She nodded vigorously.
When she finally found her voice she said, “I don’t know why–it’s just a house.”
But of course we both knew it wasn’t just a house.
Even though it looked like every other house on the block, the ubiquitous London terraced house built along a ubiquitous North London road, her daughters, now grown, had run up and down its stairs, had hid in its rooms, had gathered around the dining room table in its kitchen, had practiced their violin in its living room, had fought and laughed in its every room.
They had become who they were surrounded by its four strong walls.
Later when they left, she and her husband gave the house–the red brick, the white trim, the very smart dark green they had chosen for the door–one last look before they drove off.
An hour later a new moving van pulled up, along with a younger couple and a small child.
Inside, their home awaited, the kitchen, the living room, the bedrooms, and its walls still ringing with the laughter of two little girls, now grown.
photo by Alissa Osumi