This house has been home for 13 years. It is not large. It is not fancy. It is old and needs constant repair. But the minute I saw it 13 years ago, it felt like the house I was always meant to find.
I don't know very much of its history, but I do know it was built in 1914 when this part of Portland was an area of dairies and orchards. It isn't hard to imagine a Model T Ford parked out front or ladies in long skirts fanning themselves on the porch. Previous residents have left their marks. There are remnants of old wallpaper hiding inside cupboards and closets. Somewhere along the line someone "modernized" the living and dining rooms, by lowering the ceilings to 8 feet. Several years ago we had them restored to their original height and uncovered a strip of wallpaper with large white magnolias on a grey background. I've always wondered what possessed them to drop the ceilings, and what was the guy thinking that installed the aluminum sliding door? ButI am grateful to whomever it was that added the upstairs bathroom.
One day I was out in the yard and saw a woman drive slowly by, gazing intently up at the house. I asked if I could help and she said her aunt and uncle had lived in the house when she was a child. I invited her in and she stood in the doorway to the kitchen and got a little teary telling me about what a good cook and dear person her aunt had been.
Another time I was upstairs and heard voices outside, through the open window. An elderly man and two children were standing in the street looking up. The man was saying, "this is the house I lived in when I was a teenager. My Dad and I built this garage." I invited them inside and he seemed to be so happy to see that the house was still there and still in decent condition. He showed his grandchildren the room that had been his bedroom and he is the one who told me that the upstairs bathroom did not exist when he lived in the house.
More recent residents came by to pick up a package that was delivered here (it had been many years since they lived here, but apparently someone still had their old address) and I gave them the tour as well. Their teenage children barely remembered the house, but the man pointed out all the little handyman touches he had added during their tenure.
We have been comfortable in this house and have made our marks as well—new stairs, new oak floors, new kitchen tile, the aforementioned ceiling restoration, and yes, we got rid of the aluminum slider. In a few years we will move on to a house that we can grow old in. Too many stairs, too much yard, too much maintenance here. Someone new will move in and we will be part of the history of this old house. I don't believe in ghosts, and I've never seen one lurking around here, but I do believe that people leave something of themselves behind. This is a fortunate house. It seems to be filled with happy memories and good feelings.