Do you see what I see?
(Originally posted August 17, 2006)
It’s an older house, a bit run down but not nearly as shabby as the one next to it. Dark grey clapboard, with recently painted white trim. No air conditioning, or at least not that they’re using, because the sash windows are all up. One window has a box fan. The rest of the windows, on both stories, have tie-dyed sheets as curtains. They are all different colors, and I wonder what the rooms look like when the sun shines through. Is it like stained glass? In one of the four windows on the top floor, there’s a white cat stretched out on the windowsill. He blinks at me as I look up at him, walking past.
It’s a house on a corner that sticks out a little bit, like a triangle. The house is catty-corner on the lot. Walking from one direction I always see the front door, the bumpy brick walk leading up to the door, and the porch on the side with the torn-down screens. Coming from the other side, I get a glimpse into what little back yard there is. The same bumpy brick makes a circular area that doesn’t need to be mowed, and there’s a round table with many chairs around it. Stairs leading down from the house next door end just next to the edge of the brick. I wonder if they like their neighbors; if they invite them over for beer and hamburgers on a Saturday afternoon. The seating area is shaded. I bet it’s a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by.
Walking from one direction, the yard looks almost overgrown. A bush that is almost up to my shoulder is growing from the sidewalk to the tree a few feet into the property. I can see flowers, impatiens, mixed with ivy, covering the ground in an area about the size of a twin bed. Coming from the other direction, I can see there’s a small stone path that leads from one corner of the flowerbed to the tree. The stone marker leaning against the tree is partially hidden by the large bush. There’s a cat carved on it, and a name I can’t quite make out. Puffy? Fluffy? I think about the kind of person who would make such a lovely place for a departed pet. I wonder if they think of the pet every time they go outside, or if there are days (and I have those days myself, what with time passing and numbing the loss) when you walk past and forget.
It looks like it may have been a garage at one time, or a workshop. It sits back from the road and is partially hidden behind the house, partially hidden behind a row of trees. You can only see it when you get to the driveway area. It’s an apartment now, most likely rented out by the homeowner; or possibly a mother-in-law suite. My guess is apartment, because it has that well-used look that places in Gainesville get when student after student passes through. Hanging plants line one side, with a small gap where the door is. There’s a porch rail, if you can call the small paved area a porch, and there are dozens of small terra cotta pots with spider plants and aloe. The building is green, with red trim. It looks very happy. I wonder if there are as many plants inside.
I like looking at the houses on my walk, and wondering about the people who have lived there before down through the years, the people who live there now. I don’t want to know them; I just want to imagine them. Bridgett, of course, doesn’t care at all. She just wants to stop and sniff the flowers.