It was cold in the living room, despite the fact that the weather outside was a pleasant eighty-one degrees and almost unbearably sunny. The house had never been well insulated. In fact, there had been many problems with the residence beginning the first month she had moved in; the pipes in her shower and kitchen had burst resulting in the excavation of her front lawn in order to remove the roots from the giant Fica tree that had been the cause of such saturated devastation. A few months later, the entire right side of the home went dark when a major fuse burnt out, rendering the microwave, fans, and track lighting utterly useless.
One minor catastrophe after another seemed to ensue for the subsequent two and a half years of her residency at the home across from the Spanish style wall and picturesque mountains. The bay window she was staring out of at the moment had proven to be more entertainment than any television set could have possibly provided, and more of a distraction for that matter.
On overcast opaque days, she liked to sit with her back against one of the inlaid walls, knees up to her chest, hugging herself as her father-in-law’s old sweatshirt draped across her arms like a blanket. On sunnier days, she would watch the dozens of dog walkers laughing and talking, and was happy to note that only a very small percentage were ever glued to their cell phones.
She was going to miss that window.
As she made her way to her backyard, well not her backyard … at least not anymore. She felt the warmth of the late afternoon sun drip down her skin in soft waves of melancholy. The incredibly tall trees that lined the old, weathered fence loomed over their surroundings like gentle giants. The fence itself had also become a friend over the years. Its well worn and deeply etched lines that made up its gray face had seen many a person sitting quietly or laughing loudly in the seat she resided in now. It had taken her some time to forgive that fence. When she first moved in, her smallest dog had escaped through a gaping hole. She had never cried harder for a creature in her life—in fact, she was sure she would go mad and that the hole in the fence would somehow work its way into her heart. Months later, she finally made peace with it, and as she mended the hole in the fence, the one in her bleeding heart slowly mended as well.
Now she found herself gingerly treading through the home itself on cat’s paws, as though trying not to disturb some invisible sleeping inhabitants. Cup of coffee in hand, she roamed the hallway, rooms, and finally the foyer, recounting the sea of memories that had been made within those eggshell and taupe walls. Even the lone column that stood oddly just to the left of the front entrance bemused her. A smile crept over her lips even before she felt the tears gather in her eyes. It was not until the world around her became a blur that she realized she had begun to cry.
Yesterday, she had received the letter she had been dreading: her sixty-day termination of her tenancy of the residence. The first red flag occurred when the landlord decided not to renew the yearly lease and instead opted for a month-to-month agreement. The second red flag had been the many legal documents sent to the landlord. It was then that she finally succumbed to the cold fact that the house she had come to love and know as her own was not really hers at all. The landlord seemed to be having financial problems and was probably going to either sell the house or foreclose it, neither of which would be convenient situations for her.
Over the years, she had tried not to become attached to the home, but that attempt proved to be completely futile. It was the first house that had ever felt like hers, not in the rightful sense of financial ownership, but in the sense of feeling what a home should feel like. When she was lonely, it kept her company. When she was tired, it gave her something to do. When she was anxious, it helped her rest. When she was happy, it seemed to rejoice with her. It was an odd little place, filled with hidden quirks and countless miniscule flaws; and the bay window enjoyed watching the people walk along the sidewalk as much as she did. It had indeed become … a friend.
She was not unaccustomed to financial hardship, and the rent had been just enough for her to afford without going hungry, while still having the ability to place carved pumpkins out during Halloween and Christmas lights in the winter. Even if the opportunity arose to purchase the home, she knew she would never be able to afford it.
In the subsequent weeks, she would have to find another residence. She would go through the uneventful and tragically frustrating task of packing her belongings and loading them into an ugly large white and orange rented truck. She would spend the last day in her home making last minute arrangements with her new landlord, and she would spend the last night in her home weeping silently into her pillow as she took one long look around her very bare room.
It would take several weeks, perhaps months, before curiosity would draw her back to the home she once loved so much that she could not wait to pull into the driveway just so she could hear the wind whisper through the leaves of the very large fica tree, the same one responsible for destroying her plumbing. Her curiosity satisfied, she would smile and hope that one day another home would make her feel just as welcome. And though she would try incredibly hard not to become attached to something she did not own, she would never learn her lesson. In the end, though the sting of eventual separation would never quite disappear, she would realize that it was always better to feel attachment and fondness for something even if it did not truly belong to her, than to feel absolutely nothing at all.