The fall air brings a chill to the old house, autumn leaves cover the unkept yard and rustle in the wind. It is empty, lonely and sad. The furniture is dusty, and cobwebs adorn the corners of each wall. There is an empty nail where once a beautiful painting hung and the walk captured complements and quiet moments absorbing the powerful imagery.
The house sits alone just past the iron gate waiting for a family to come and make it a home. It whispers of a past where life filled the rooms with laughter and conversations. Shhh … listen to the children playing on the porch or the joys in the kitchen as they celebrated another birthday with cake and candles. You can hear the dogs barking and the sound of paws clicking on the tile patio as it runs after a thrown ball. You can close your eyes and feel the house breathe; yet, the breath is shallow as if winding down and soon to stop.
It seems in a way the old house lives, feels and cares that it no longer has a purpose. Perhaps it is even sad and lonely. Having no purpose means it exists without meaning.
It no longer shelters a family, a time when the house felt pride. It spent a lifetime feeling better, growing, a new coat of paint or replacing the roof. Once a new sunroom was added and birdfeeders were just outside the windows. It was a time of joy, a home filled with love, life, and living. People came to visit and always said it was a beautiful home, a good place to live.
The rain overflows the gutters now, filled with leaves and broken branches, the spout clogged and pulling away from the roof. In the old kitchen that once was the heart of the house, the paint is peeling off the wall and stains cover the ceiling where the water leaked in or maybe even tears from the house itself. The house wonders why you left and abandoned it not understanding that people pass away and children grow up and move on.
It is late in the day and the winds blow even harder and nightfall fills the house with darkness. In the distance car light comes toward the house slowly with their windows down looking at the house, even saying it could be fixed up, fresh paint, the yards mowed, and the gutters fixed. The house takes a deep breath and lets it flow throughout the rooms and then hears a key turning in the lock.
Point Of View
I have always felt that houses are sad when we leave, slowly giving up and the spirit and soul of the house fade away. They turn grey and faded and in time become a vacant lot with only whispers of the past left to remind us of the footprints we left behind.
Larry, this is so poignant because the ongoing imagery of decay and abandonment further emphasised by the unstoppable ravages of time describe much more than a house that is no longer a home. You have crystallised the horror of loneliness, feeling useless and old age with deep sensitivity.
Thank you Noemi. It was inspired by this one country Road that I ride down often. There are many abandoned places on that road but I can remember when families lived there and they were full of happiness and laughter
The house is not a place but a state of mind and the people you love do, what you have experienced, not the walls.
But the fact is that life goes. Stop. And even real estate is not real property. Those are not forever either. And perhaps it makes no sense to continue pretending that everything is the same. And perhaps to grow means to accept that things change.
Beautiful and sad simultaneously, Larry. The optimist in me sees this house as the one in “It’s a Wonderful Life,”-where Mary throws a rock, breaks a window of the abandoned house, makes a wish to live there with George. Her wish comes true in the movie. Because of my work as a feng shui consultant-houses imbued with life energy of the humans that care for them emit beauty into the world. Abandoned houses definitely represent the contrasting energy presence of sad, lonely, and isolated, much like the homeless people holding signs asking for food on the roadside. My hope/vision is that find ways to belong to one another, to connect in those sacred places, and experience that feeling of knowing there is no place like home. How important to care for these human exoskeletons…the abandoned houses. (or recycle/repurpose….) Thank you for this poignant essay, my friend.
Thank you for your inspiring insights. I love how you see the story.
Larry, this is so beautiful. I wonder if we find old houses sad because it reminds of that we wont last forever?
So true one day it will be gone
Larry – Wonderful imagery – I felt the pain and sadness for a place called home at one time. Well done, my friend.
I often wonder if the house is sad when we leave.
Larry – We project sadness on the house because we understand that change is inevitable – the life we knew in the “old home” will be relegated to memories – the warmth we felt in the familiarity of those walls will no longer comfort us – the joys will be silenced – the tears that stained the floor will vanish – new memories will cause the old to fade until little is left of the life we once cherished. And if no one ever calls this once important abode “home” in the future, sadness comes from knowing this “old friend” had reached it’s end. Alas, I have experienced this in so many moves in the course of my life so I truly appreciate your story.
Thank you for your insights my friend
My pleasure, my friend.