We live in a neighborhood of very big, old houses on a street where the trees used to be so lush that city workers could walk from one end of the street to the other on top of the branches. I know that because a city arborist told me. It must have been a sight to see although I’m betting no one living has seen it, just heard the stories passed down from one arborist to the other in the City Hall breakroom.
The people who live in my neighborhood aren’t rich. The rich people live a few streets over in houses that front on Lake Michigan. On our street we have professors and lawyers, an emergency room doctor, and a home care agency director and, oh, a carpenter who lives on the corner. He has made a career of fixing our houses, every month his sign is in front of another house, causing me to wonder whether he will move to another neighborhood with ancient houses when he has fixed up all of our houses.
The houses were made for large families at the beginning of the last century. Each house has a third floor, its construction tall and stout, the city’s 50 foot lot size restraining any spread. You could envision a few neighbors being able to shake hands, the space between structures so small. Our house, built in 1911, has a small driveway between us and our southern neighbor, a driveway built for a Model T. Our truck stays parked on the street.
People ask us when we are downsizing. Our four kids are long gone. Now, it’s two people and two dogs living in a space meant for seven or eight or more and who knows how many dogs. An army could probably live here, bivouac at least, there is plenty of space.
But we are unmoved, in every sense. This is our street, our windows, our view, our tall three-story house that has rooms we don’t go in but maybe two or three times a year. But the rest of the house is lived in, typed in, cooked in, talked in, loved in. Every inch has our fingerprints, our intentions and history. So we are here for a while, hopefully, a good long while. It’s where we live.