This evening we ended up at my parents’ house for dinner. Since they’re selling their house and looking for somewhere new, the talk naturally centred around the apartment they had seen that afternoon. It’s in the most beautiful old building by the harbour, not too far from Anne’s house, and it’s been in the same family since the 1700s. When I hear something like that, the historian in me pricks up her ears like a dog who just heard someone say, ‘Walkies.’ The family also own another building in town, one which has seen my grandmother, my mother, me and my son all run up down one side of the steps and down the other. As I say to my father every time we pass, ‘If you’re going to live in that house, you have to live with that.’ Apparently this building is haunted by an old sea captain looking for his tombstone. It’s up for rent. Am I weird for wanting to live there? 300m2 and a polite ghost – what’s not to love!
The woman who is buying my parents’ house is named Anne. And she’s pregnant. I find that quite funny, almost like my part of my book has come to life on another island. Both her best friend and her sister live close by with their families. My mother said, ‘The house will be filled with children. I think it will like that.’
That made me wonder. Do homes remember? Sometimes you walk into a home and it just feels right. Other times something is just a little off. When I was an estate agent, there were some houses I loved showing because I could imagine myself living there and others that just did not excite me at all. And no, size didn’t matter. But is that because a home is a living, breathing thing that is moulded by the lives lived under its roof?
Will my parents’ house remember us when we’ve gone? Will it feel exhausted by the sound of charging feet and screaming babies? Will the happy memories we have created within its walls allow it continue as a house with a lovely “feel” to it? The house where I lived in with my ex-husband came up for sale because the couple who bought it were getting divorced. For all that my son was born while I lived in that house, it was not a happy home. Did the house know? Will it now be a “bad” house until someone can live in it who can turn the feeling around?
As a writer and an historian, I believe anything can leave an imprint, have an impact.
I think there’s a story in there somewhere. We writers take inspiration wherever we can find it. Even impromptu dinners at our parents’ house.