It was the house in this photo:
Now, from this angle, it doesn't look dreadful, does it? (That magical real estate agent camera lense again...). But up close? Oh dear. The front porch roof was caving in, the whole roof needed replacing, the one on the garage, too. Raspberry bushes and holly climbed halfway up the outside walls, a wooden trailer had taken at least ten years to collapse on the lawn to the left and porch posts were rotting, peeling, leaning. Through dusty windows, rooms inside looked as though they breathed under water.
I almost never say a house should be torn down, it's too sad a thing to mutter. But this one? It probably should be laid to rest.
And once again, Tom and I drove away disappointed.
Yet at one time? That house and yard were enchanted, magical. How do I know? I could feel it and my eyes could see remnants of the magic. Beside the back covered side porch, ivy and iris' still grew, requiring no care, even now, and in their center stood a six-foot pole with a birdseed tray on top. All this just outside the window above the kitchen sink and the stone porch with room for three wicker chairs. A tall black lampost stood at the house's other back corner, very Lion, Witch and Wardrobe-ish and the lawn was divided into three mananageable patches with more iris and other perennials as borders edging little pathways for visiting elves at night, but of course.
For many decades, a sweet old couple lived there (anyone could tell) and they spent years making that yard special for themselves and maybe a few fairies. But that sweet couple grew elderly and their house and yard got away from them. And rather than let go before it all splintered, rather than respect this new elderly season of their lives, they didn't sell their magical house to a young couple who could then have lived within its enchantment until this bright June day in 2011.
No, the house did what houses do when your hands can no longer care for them--it began sinking into the ground from the heaviness of neglect.
And so as Tom and I drove away, I repented for the dream I've sometimes dreamed--that we'd find an old house and live inside it until it fell down around our ears or we died--whichever came first. No, today for the first time I realized how incredibly selfish is that dream. Houses should be loved into standing forever and the seasons of our lives should be cherished so we'll have no regrets and respected so we'll know when it's time to move on to the seasons of our later years. All with acceptance and Grace. All with the knowledge that we left this place better than when we first arrived.