I don't know if I ever mentioned it here, but my realtor once told me that she took us to see over 80 houses when we were looking for a 'project house' in 2009. Eighty. And the minute I walked into the house we have now, I knew it was the one. Seriously, one step inside the door and I told the realtor to get the paperwork going. Buying the house wasn't without strife. It took a few months and some luck and good timing, but that's a whole other post. The point of all this is that I knew I was meant to live in this house, as odd as that sounds. My worries about moving out of my old place, where I'd lived and raised my kids for 17 years came to nought. I was at home here before my stuff was even moved in.
As we've gotten to know neighbours, gone through crawl spaces, opened drawers and checked behind doors we have come across remnants of the lives lived here before. There were childrens' names on labels, the instructions and diagrams in the boiler room, handwritten lists, and things left behind. The house was built in 1959/60 and owned by the same family ever since. By all accounts, houses rarely come up for sale on this crescent. The woman down the street (who was friends with the kids who grew up in this house) recently returned to the city and her childhood home to care for her father who still lives down the street - and has since he built his house in the early 50's. We know that the couple who lived in this house were loathe to leave it, but it had just become too much maintenance for two elderly people.
I know the people who sold this house believe it was worth more than they got for it. But it was a tough time in an off market, and you've seen the pictures - this place, though solidly built, really needs a lot of work. Even so, I still carried a bit of, well, I don't know... Something. Not guilt, but I felt sad for them. They had moved out of home where they had raised their family. Then the house sat empty for months and months because it wouldn't sell.
Right. On to the story. Norm and I had some errands to run this afternoon, after which we stopped at a new restaurant for dinner. Sitting down the way from us was a couple that Norm had spoken of on occasion but I had yet to meet in the eleven years that I've known him. In fact, I had once suggested that he had simply made these friends up. Well, F and T are real and they came to sit with us for a bit after they finished eating. (They're real, or Norm paid a really nice couple to pretend to be his friends and they in turn secretly paid for our dinner). It's not terribly unusual to run into people you know, even in a city of a million people. What is unusual is when you tell them where you're living now, and they know the street. Not only do they know the street, but F was best friends in grade one with one of the kids who lived in this very house. T, who moved to this neighbourhood in grade 8, was also friends with one of the girls. Not only was, but still is. Both F and T remember the house well and are excited to tell their friends that the house ended up in good hands. Though there is the added bit of pressure for me now that I know one of the friends is an interior designer. Goodness knows why she didn't convince her parents to do something with the place before they tried to sell it.
In the end though, I know that the original owners will at least hear about how much we love this house and how not a day goes by where we aren't excited about restoring it to a wonderful home. A place where family and friends gravitate. A home of celebrations and comfort. A place to come home to.