The house across the street from me is vacant.

A “For Sale” sign advertises what we neighbors have long suspected — the owner is staying in a nursing home. Her kids already have homes and don’t need another one.

It’s a big house, too. Three bedrooms, three full baths, fireplace, patio.

The lawn is manicured, reminding me of a person all dressed up with nowhere to go.

The drapes are open to let sunshine into the windows, which look like eyes staring off into the distance, seeing nothing.

I’m told there’s a fresh coat of paint and a new roof. That’s Realtor-speak for “whitewashed tombs” — pretty on the exterior but hiding a wealth of problems within (Matt. 23:27).

Not that there are major problems. No, it’s just that this home is no longer new.

There’s no new house smell. No immense bathrooms with spa tubs. No squeaky-clean, unused appliances.

How can one erase 50 years of Life from a home? Families ate meals in its dining room. Children studied their schoolwork or practiced musical lessons.

People argued. And made up.

They laughed and cried.

I remember that house from when I was little. We neighbor kids used to love playing Hide-and-Seek, and one of our favorite places to hide was right on its front porch.

(I know, we’d never get away with that these days — who wants giggling kids hunkering down outside their front door?)

This porch was ideal, though. It has a brick wall with several decorative open squares partially concealing the front door from the street. Squares that are perfect for little child-eyes to peep out without being seen. To wait for “It” to run away from the “safe-spot,” clearing the way for “the hiders” to get there.

Fast-forward a few years, and I remember that house being a place My Favorite Domer avoided when he was learning to ride a bicycle.

Its sidewalk had crumbled, leaving a treacherous spot for new (and experienced) bicyclists.

Even now, Darling Doggie switches to the grass when we walk there. Because of the sidewalk.

So the house sits vacant. Alone. Lonely.

Waiting for a new family to move in. To bring Life once more to its walls. Perhaps to fix it up, hanging pictures, putting in new carpet and flooring.

And fencing in the backyard for a dog or a child’s birthday party.

We neighbors wait right along with the house.

21 thoughts on “Waiting…Waiting…

  1. We have a vacant house across the street from us, but not yet for sale. The owner has been in a nursing home for almost a year and a half and is not ready to sell.

  2. Oh this makes me sad for the house. I often wonder if the walls could talk the stories it would tell. No house stays empty long in our neighborhood. There is a real shortage of housing in Switzerland.

    • We’ve got houses for sale dotting our entire town, Pat. I imagine lots of folks are tired of Illinois’s sorry business climate; others are choosing to retire somewhere warm, or move on to bigger, newer homes. Probably lots of “deals” out there in a buyer’s market!

  3. I’ll take an old, slightly down-at-the-heels house with a history over a brand new tract home any day. Solid wood beats plywood, wood frame windows beat vinyl, more smaller rooms waste less space, etc.

    I hope the house finds its people soon!

    • What a beautiful thought — and so very true. This home, I’m sure, has real wood. And plaster. It’s already withstood bad storms and doesn’t have a basement that requires a sump pump every time it rains. Lots to be said for a lived-in home — kind of like a lived-in person, huh?!

  4. Houses hold so many memories. I live in the house Joe’s dad built over 60 years ago and 7 children grew up in. Every major event in my married life has happened in this house including my wedding, Coles christening, and Joe’s death. One day, I will have to sell it and it will break off a piece of my heart, but what I know will live on is the memories this house holds. Joe’s siblings tell all kinds of stories about parties, the amazing jobs that came out of the woodworkers garage, and 10 people sharing two bathrooms which was really quiet a “rich” in those days.
    I would like to hope the house across your street was sold to a young family ready to build new memories. I hope they are nice and responsible for the neighborhoods sake. And the old women…I hope her children take time to indulge her memories and stories–happy and sad.

    • Beautiful thoughts, Katybeth! There are a lot of old houses in town, and I know they hold many a memory — as Pat said, If the walls could talk. I imagine living in Joe’s childhood home is a comfort to both you and Cole. He might not be there, but his presence is all around you! And yes, I sincerely hope this house across the street finds a good family to love it and make their own memories there.

    • Thanks, Monica! It’s big enough for a decent-sized family and would give them plenty of room where they aren’t stepping all over one another. Since the widow obviously isn’t coming back, I hope the right people come along soon to renew its energies!

  5. What a beautiful post Debbie. Your writing and memories reminded me of the house I lived in while in elementary school in Colorado. I wonder how it’s doing now. I know it’s old but it was brand new in a brand new subdivision when we moved in. It’s the first house I remember. Oh that we could go back in time and view those days again…and I wonder how many families have lived within those walls since. I hope you all are blessed with a new family to enjoy as a neighbor in that house soon.

    • Thanks for reading and leaving such kind words, Barb. Vacant houses are like empty slates, just waiting for a new family to write upon them. I hope this one will find the right family to love it and love living here!

  6. I’ve always wished for a house with a porch. They mostly exist in the older neighborhoods around here. I look at houses like the one you describe, imagine all the character inside and dream of renovating one someday.

    • I imagine its new owners will have some work to do — things like updating the bathrooms, perhaps adding additional closet space, maybe putting in new carpet or flooring. Still, with a house this well-built, they’ll have a sturdy foundation to work with. And I think it’s even got real plaster on the walls!

  7. Pingback: The Rest of the Story | Musings by an ND Domer's Mom

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