Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Number 7

The day I moved to London, Lisa took me to have tea with Megan, so that I could stay awake and get over jetlag more quickly. Megan lived at number 7, Cotswold Gardens, a house with a Winnie-the-Pooh-yellow door. (You could maybe also call it goldenrod, but Laura Lee, a much later addition to the team, cited Winnie the Pooh.)

I'm not the biggest fan of "goldenrod," except on goldenrod, but I absolutely loved this door. It was such a happy shock of insane brightness in such a usually grim and grey city. I also loved the house on the other side of that door. I thought to myself, "I love this house. I'm going to live in it one day." The house was owned by the churches I worked for, and it was often changing hands, though I didn't know that when I first "met" it.

About two years later, I really did move in. That first night, as I lay down to sleep, I thought to myself with a sense of confirmation, "Yes. This is your house."

It was my house for three years, and when I left, they painted it and Laura Lee picked the colour. She wanted to paint the door something sensible, but I made kind of a stink about and spoke up for the yellow door. So they did repaint it, but it was still that crazy yellow.

Last year Jayne told me in an email that the church was trying to offload some of their extraneous properties, and that was one of them, and they were putting it on the market. I wanted to buy it. It was my house, after all. But they don't pay you enough at Starbucks to put a downpayment on a home in London. I never heard anything else about it, until I got to Jayne's house for dinner on my first day in London last week.

"Number 7 finally sold last week," she said.

I shouldn't have been surprised. And it's good for the church and everything. But was I ever disappointed. I stayed the week in the house next door, with some friends, and so I got to see my house every day. But the house had been painted off-white, and the door had been painted blue, and the last three days I was there, the new owners spent gutting the place. The front garden was full of the bricks that didn't fit in the skip (dumpster) hired and sitting in the middle of the street.

I think I might have been sadder, except with the door now blue instead of yellow, it wasn't my house anymore. It does kind of feel like the end of an era, though.


Christianne said...

ohhh, that's a really sad story. at least, the part of me that really identifies with becoming attached to certain places and senses of things, the part of me that really gets 'adopting' a home as yours before you live in it, the part of me that totally smiles at your bliss the first night sleeping in that home once you could call it your own . . . that's the part of me that feels the sadness of this story.

but i also get that other part, the part that feels a sense of closure about it, the part that knows it's not the same anymore, the part that knows the era has passed.

but i still feel sad for you. i'm glad you had that house, though . . . that the two of you found each other. i am sure it knew you loved it well.

Annelise said...

I feel sad knowing they gutted that house! I suppose they needed to (knowing how old it was!), but I would have been happy living there myself! :-)

heather said...

I get very attached to places. It seems like they have a personality, and they house your personality that you become united in some way. I think this is why that sometimes I set books or stories in a house I grew up in. It's a way of making it immortal.

Jenn said...

Christianne--I sort of thought of you when I wrote this, because I remembered your post about coming upon your current house . . . Thanks for "getting" it.

Mom--Yeah, no kidding. I know some of the walls needed re-doing, but I think they're taking out the fireplaces which, though never used, were SO COOL!

Heather--that is such a good idea . . .