April 7, 2017 by Petrea
Other People’s Houses
Sometimes I think of other people’s houses as places where I could hide away. It’s a strange kind of envy; if I found a way to get in and stay, I could disappear into someone else’s story and never be responsible for my own.
Each window hides mysteries: What’s it like in there? Sleek and modern? Or old, dark, and creaking? Is it the home of a hoarder? A clean freak? A night owl? A conjurer? What kind of furniture do they have? What are their jobs? Who are they?
One house, I imagine, hides a middle-aged man who lives alone and pines for his dead mother. Another holds a family with an only child who is growing up, no longer oblivious to his parents’ miseries. Another, I imagine, nurtures a young couple with a baby on the way (so far, so good).
In Chicago winters I walked along Arlington Place, envying the stately brownstones, their gold-lit windows warm while I froze outside. I assumed the people inside were rich and happy. I never took photographs of those places, but I have the photos in my mind.
Other people’s houses are mysteries to be imagined. When you write a story, you can solve the mystery.
Sometimes people drive by our house and slow down. They have to, because there’s a speed hump. But I like to think they’re looking and wondering, like I do.