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.