When we knocked on the door on Halloween night I still felt an ownership over that deck that I had stripped and cleaned. I saw the clothesline I had strung and the nail I'd driven to hold our welcome sign. I felt my shadow linger against the white siding I had washed with dish soap and my foot heard the familiar creak of the old wood beneath me.
The woman who opened the door was not particularly warm. She stood there beside a 'Zombie Entrance' sign and dumped candy into the kids bags.
"How are you liking the house?" Scott asked.
She shrugged and made a little disgusted noise in her throat.
"We used to live here," he told her.
"Well, I'm just renting it," she said and I could see past her to the pale olive walls that I had worked on into wee morning hours while the children slept and Harry Connick Jr. sang to me. "It's pretty small," she complained.
And it was. It was So Small. But I had loved it. I had been proud of it. Even in the first weeks when it was beyond disgusting and I had dumped countless buckets of black water from the carpet cleaner down the grimy shower drain. It had been ours. We had decked it's halls in our love.
And she didn't care.
She didn't care that we had brought babies home to those walls. That we had fought river rats and laughed over episodes of Seinfeld and grown beans in the garden and waved to neighbors from the kitchen window.
She didn't care that this had been home even though we took home with us the moment we closed those doors on that final day.
She didn't care that the main portion of Zander's childhood was spent there by the river where the mud stole his shoe.
She didn't care about us or our memories or that it felt like she was kicking our fondness of this place-now-foul right in the teeth.
No one will ever love that little house like I did. It's no wonder the ghosts came with us when we left.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by the woman who purchased our home. She gushed about how happy they had been, tucked up in that place I had made beautiful - how they loved the community and how their children were blossoming and how, the moment she first entered she had known how much love had been there.
But life had dealt them an unexpected hand and they'd had to return to the city and rent the house out to a terrible tenant who is now fighting against them maliciously because of a pipe that burst during the extreme cold of this terrible winter.
My heart goes out to her and her family. Perhaps we took all the good that little house had to offer. What an awful thing - to hear your thing of joy has brought pain to someone else.
All I can do is hope and pray that things work out for the best and that love, in whatever form it chooses, might return to those four walls. That it would breed happiness, not heartache. That whatever echo of our old life remains would inform the future for whoever dwells within.