Sunday, August 7, 2016

Empty Houses

We live on a short double ended cul de sac. There are three small houses across the street and all of them are more or less vacant. The people in the first one have sold it to a developer and bought another one in a small town in the country where they now spend most of their time, though they remain in possession of it until fall. They are friends and we will miss them. They also take our garbage and recycle bins to the street on collection day, which is kind and wonderful. I bake brownies or cookies for them sometimes, and they bring us delicious blueberries from their new garden in the country. We exchanged pet sitting while we were still physically able to do it, but we are no longer up to the job and haven't gone anywhere in a long time.

The middle house has been vacant for six months or more -- the owners also bought another house in the country, packed up and moved, abandoning the home where they raised their family and lived most of their lives. It stands empty and sad. We trust it, too, will be sold to the developers. At first, they visited it every day. Now, having adjusted to their new house, they simply leave the old one to the elements.

The third house is owned by musicians who are mostly on the road and use it as a crash pad when they're in town. When they're there, a lively german short-haired pointer plays soccer in the yard. When they are not, nothing moves.

For better or worse, they are vacant houses. Looking out on them is a forlorn view, at night the dark windows staring blankly out with no signs of life. It's really sad. We have lived in this house for 16 years. Our next door neighbors have a pact with us that we won't sell out to the developers and will stay where we are. We have watched their two daughters grow up and become beautiful young women. I can almost not tell the oldest from her mother now. On the other side of them, more musicians come and go.

We watch out for each others' welfare. That is slipping away as the developers come in. I dread the fall when the bulldozers and the construction crews will block our narrow street and raise the dust and noise levels to unbearable. I dread the loss of the cosy post war cottages and the coming of the tall skinnies that are already eyesores all over town, built two on a lot that used to hold one home.

Our city is growing at such a rate that the roads are choked with traffic, the markets too full of shoppers, the frequent and wonderful events too crowded to go to. Business is booming. The place  is unrecognizable. Maybe selling out and moving to the country is not such a bad idea.