Recently, my husband and I had the chance to meet someone new. Until that moment, she was completely unknown to us, but our stories are connected. She grew up in the house where we currently live.
As she was growing up, she was best friends with our neighbors’ daughter. Since she was back in town visiting (from the Austin area no less, where we also used to live) our neighbors walked a few doors down and introduced us. We began to tell stories about the house we shared.
Her stories had more depth and longevity, of course. This is our first house, and we’ve only lived here a year and a half. But as she talked about her parents and her growing up years, she answered some wonderful curiosities for us . . .
. . . Her father was locally famous for growing roses. He grew many in the backyard and more in the basement during the winter months. Our basement has many nails which supported grow lights for these roses.
. . . Her mother was locally famous for baking cakes, cupcakes, and pastries. That’s why we have an enclosed sunroom addition with a second sink. Even more important for baking, there used to be a second oven too.
. . . All the neighborhood kids used to play in our house and yard. It was a central location (and of course, the central place for all the delicious treats!)
I loved to hear about these. Stories of the past then easily moved to stories of the present. Our new friend loved that Ian is gardening here. He’s doesn’t grow roses, but many types of food and flowers are flourishing in the yard again. I loved to ponder our house’s history as a central location for people. We bought this particular house because we wanted to host others. It isn’t particularly large, but its rooms feel so spacious and open with a lot of light. They flow well into one another which is great for hosting.
Her family preceded us, and they lived here thirty years. We’ve been here less time, but we’ve inhabited the same space and made memories in it too.
And this made me wonder, how often are we unaware of this kind of experience? How often are we housed in the stories of others? There are obvious connections that we never think about. The only thing separating these connections is time. That’s it. Just time. What if we could know the stories that house us?
Stories of people and events on the same land,
Stories of people and events in houses of worship,
Stories of people and events in schools,
Stories of people and events across distant family trees,
And likely, many more stories, only unknown to us because time has passed.
I like to ponder this, and I’m curious to consider how we make stories now which will house others in the future.