Someone has moved into the house behind ours. It wouldn't be worth noting except that the house went up years ago and I've never seen anyone go in or out of it.
I remember my dad commenting on its charm the last time he visited. I was showing him the raised garden beds we'd built, and he walked over to the edge of the yard to get a better look at the house out back. That was the last time I saw him before he died, not that we had any inkling at the time that it would be.
It's like Alex (my partner) says, when you're a kid you get picked up all the time. If you fall asleep in the car, you're carried up to bed. You get lifted onto your mother's hip, carried on your brother's back or hoisted on your father's shoulders for a better view. Then one day you're put back down, and you're never picked up again. There's no announcement. No right of passage. It's just over. That's what my parents' visit in 2015 was like. I'm sure if it hadn't been the last I wouldn't remember something so insignificant as my dad liking the house out back, but I remember feeling pleased that we had that in common. After all, it's not a typical house. It's a bit of an oddity actually, surprisingly tall and thin with asymmetrical elements, but charming in its cooky way.
That house stood empty for so long that I'd begun to wonder if there was something wrong with the interior that made it uninhabitable. I tried to get a look inside, but to really see I would have had to get right up close, and empty or not, that didn't seem like a good idea. After all, what if I was wrong about no one living there? Just imagine getting up close, looking in and being face to face with the homeowner! No thank you.
Then, early this year I noticed there was something different about the door. A couple days later it was clear that renovations were taking place; the original door was being replaced with a much, much wider one. I was partial to the old one; it fit the place. The new one is out of proportion with the rest of the building, but what did my opinion matter, I reminded myself. I wasn't the one living there. Did I mention that the new door is off center?
When it snowed I saw a path had been made, but there was still no sign of my new neighbor. Of course in the suburbs it is easy to go weeks, even months without seeing the neighbors.
And then this morning we met.
I have a hard time pronouncing his name, but he says I can call him Red; most people do. He says he did all the renovations himself and gave me permission to post a picture.