29 July 2010

Blast From The Past

Tonight, while I was eating dinner and watching Dateline*, there was a knock at the door. I first thought the two women standing on our front porch were neighbors stopping by to say hi -- but when the first one introduced herself, I immediately recognized her last name.

By random coincidence, our house designer's office manager's roommate (no kidding) was the daughter of the woman who lived in the old house (Mildred). We met the office manager, Julia, last summer while we were working on our plans, and she told us how excited her roommate, Nancy, was about the prospect of something better taking the place of the old house. Julia told us that Nancy would love to see the new house before we moved in, and we agreed. By the end of the design process, we weren't in touch with Janet anymore and it would have been awkward to call her to arrange a looksee, so it never happened.

You've probably figured out that the two women at our door tonight were Julia and Nancy. They were passing through the area and wanted to check on the house, thinking it was still under construction. When they saw lights on, they realized we had already moved in and decided to knock on the door.

I invited them in and gave them a tour. They managed to see past our disorganization and gushed about the wood floors, the fireplace, the door hardware, the light fixtures, the hexagon tile, the window trim -- so many different aspects of the house, I've already forgotten. Julia remembered the bunny room from our plans, even asking which bunny was Millie (and then they both held her and pretty much fell in love). One thing I found interesting was how Nancy commented about the openness of the great room -- by comparing it to the living room of the old house. I guess I don't think about it as a dichotomy of two houses as much as a progression from a severely fire-damaged house (since I never knew the old house in its pre-fire state) to an empty lot and then to the new house. Our experiences really shape our perception of the world.

In the final years of Mildred's life, her relationship with her children was strained, to say the least (as we understand it, they were estranged and Mildred ended up cutting them out of her will). So talking about (or around) the tragic circumstances of last January was awkward. But regardless of the family dynamic, it's great to know that what we created met with the approval (and then some) of someone who not only lost her mother but also her childhood home in the fire.

*Okay, I was watching an online rerun of America's Next Top Model. I just can't turn my eyes away. Those girls want it so bad.

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