A tell tale sign appeared, just in the middle of a front lawn in our neighborhood. White post, sunk about 8 inches into the ground. Cross post at the top, for-sale sign hanging down and swaying in the breeze. It had rained in the early morning. The wet drops clung to the sign, waiting for a sun that was running late. Neighbors were preparing to move away. A new place, a new stage. Downsizing? Upgrading? Whatever the reason, they would soon be gone.
The truth is we know people, but not that well. A wave on the street, a handshake, a ‘how are you today?’, even if sincere, means only so much. Moving takes planning. Thought, discussion, realtors. Something the family must have been processing for a long time, many months at least. Serious conversations, pros and cons. And I, living just two doors down, had no idea. Walls come in many shapes and sizes. Some intentional, others unintentional, others just there. And others that suddenly apppear.
There were other signs too. The sprucing up of the landscaping. Work on the walkway and a new street light. I’ve always thought it strange that we’ll live in a home for years and years, and suddenly, just before selling it, we put the work into it to make it nicer than it was before. Probably many of the things we always thought we should do. Paint the dining room, clean the carpets (or install new floors!), update the kitchen, redo the bath. And then we move?! Why not do the work when we can live in the house and enjoy it, why not make the home more like we would like it to be now? It seems so strange to make it beautiful and then say goodbye.
But so it goes. Time and again, house by house, neighborhood by neighborhood. Families come and go. We share space, a street, a wave, a few years. The children grow and leave, off to their own lives. The trees, not so long ago mere saplings, now tower above the homes, spreading their leaves over entire yards in the fall. A new family comes and the cycle begins again. New furniture will come, new colors of paint, new appliances and window treatments and posters and paintings. But the old house remains. It is frozen in time, a photograph, even a movie, always there to play, in the minds of the people who lived there and shared their lives.