Saturday, May 11, 2013

On Life Without Load-Bearing Walls

Dear John,
I've had a slow day. I did laundry and housework, and cuddled with the animals. It's been gray and rainy - a perfect day to cuddle with warm fur!
I found this photo yesterday. My first thought was, "That's what my life looks like!" And it does.
The central load-bearing wall of this house has failed and it's falling down, walls going all directions. Wind and rain come in through the windows and the roof, it's denuded of paint; it has no protection from the elements. Somebody loved and cared for it once, but it's been desolate for quite some time.
I've always loved old houses, derelict or not. If I came across that house, the first thing I'd want to do is go explore it. There is a deserted beauty to it, a dignity of years and experience. It no longer contains love and family, but it lends its shelter to animals, and maybe the occasional wanderer. I wonder what its story is. Did a man build it for his bride? Did children run through its halls and play in the yard, stay, grow old and die? I wonder how such a beautiful home came to be deserted.  It keeps its secrets. This house doesn't speak about its experiences - it keeps silence: dignified, aloof, and still beautiful.
There's a challenge here: Can I age (and fall down!) as graciously as this house? Like it, I've lost my central load-bearing wall, my windows are broken out,  my roof leaks, and I have no shelter from the wind and cold. Can I shelter the animals and wanderers? I can't imagine ever being silent and aloof, but maybe I can manage some dignity and grace. Love and laughter do still echo in me, memories of better days, while the rain and snow blow through. Maybe I have gained wisdom and experience that can be of use to others.
I don't usually put you through this much introspection. It must be the gray, rainy day! You were always patient with my love of old buildings. You lucked out - if I'd been younger when the Urban Explorer movement came along, you'd have been bailing me out for trespassing! I have a special weakness for old, deserted hospitals and sanitariums. I'm so grateful to you for that night we spent in the Lizzie Borden House Bed and Breakfast. The next thing I'd be asking you for is a tour of Waverly Sanitarium - it's beautiful, too.
So maybe there's hope for me, as well. I'll take this home as my example and try to be like it. And I'll come to you when I finally fall down!
Leaning a bit but still standing,

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