Sunday, April 4, 2010

The House is Not for Sale

The Koors house is empty now.

It was quiet and their American flag was waving on the front porch when I walked out to get the paper early this morning, but no one was home.

It made me think back to when we first moved here six years ago. We didn't know anyone in Spanish Fort. Richard had lived in Mobile his first time through, and I didn't know what to expect from this tiny, country town on the bluffs of Mobile Bay.

The night we arrived it was storming. I'd driven with Dad from Baton Rouge to Indianapolis, where Richard and his dad were waiting for us. Our friends helped us pack and then the four of us drove two loaded pickups and a Penske 13 hours to south Alabama.

I didn't know anyone when I moved to Indy either, but by the time I left, I knew so many awesome people. A big group of us still keep in touch, mostly through Facebook and L O S T discussions. I miss them. Sometimes very much.

In Indy, Richard and I lived in a duplex on North College Street that was a few blocks down from Atlas grocery. Atlas was where David Letterman had been a bag boy as a teenager.

It was a small, old-school grocery, but I liked it because they carried andoullie sausage and authentic Louisiana ingredients for making gumbo and jambalaya. Tough stuff to find in the Midwest.

Atlas closed while we were still on North College, and I was so disappointed. But soon after a nice fellow opened a restaurant called Yat's a few blocks down and eased the pain.

I met him once. Louisiana people always seem to find each other. He was from New Orleans and sold large plates of etoufee and creole jambalaya with maque choux and a slice of French bread for $5. I stopped missing Atlas.

The other side of our duplex was vacant several months until a mixed-race couple from Cincinnati moved in with their roly-poly baby boy.

Their names were Corey and Megan and the little boy was Alex. Megan had long light-brown hair and she was a painter. She practiced "attachment parenting" and had an alternative immunization schedule for Alex. I think she was planning to breastfeed him until he was five or something.

I had no idea what "attachment parenting" was and Catherine got her immunizations by the book. But I was also nursing, so we had something to talk about.

Corey was light-skinned and a sculptor. He converted the shed where we were supposed to park into a studio where he hammered and welded wood and metal items together to make strange-looking figures.

I crept out there one night to peek at what he was doing, and I was amazed at how nice the former parking shack now looked. He showed me some of his pieces, and I commented that he made a door for the entrance. It was good work.

Corey was the first person I met who did that style of art. I'd only known painters and one mixed-media artist up to that point. He was tall and skinny with a goatee, and he wore dreadlocks.

They were both super-nice kids, and I remember thinking how young they seemed. I wasn't very old myself, but they seemed much younger.

I remember thinking they should've kept moving from Cincinnati to California, but they ended up buying a house on Winthrop Avenue in Broad Ripple.

We bought a house on Winthrop also, but less than a year later we sold it to move here. We made just enough money on that real estate deal to put a downpayment on this house.

It only took a few days to meet my neighbors in Spanish Fort.

First, I received a hibiscus plant from Sue Ronk with a welcome card and her telephone number. Next came a peace plant from Marilyn Allen with a card and a note that her high school daughter babysat. Last came an Easter lily from Miss Betty Koors.

Miss Betty was 85, and she brought it over herself. Then we walked around my elaborately planted yard and she told me what everything was. Miss Betty's yard was also elaborately planted, and she made some grumble that Miss Retha (the previous owner) bought everything and didn't know when to stop.

I imagined they had an unspoken yard competition going on, and grinned. Miss Retha was also in her 80s, and I met her at the closing when she teared up as we all signed on the dotted lines.

I felt bad that she was crying about us buying her house and made some comment about how the girls would love the upstairs bedroom that was decorated with wallpaper featuring bunnies in a flower garden. She left us her telephone number and a note to keep in touch. She also left us her cat, Snowball.

Catherine was 17 months when we moved here and Laura was 6 months. They loved Snowball and the yard and playing in the bunny room. I loved carrying them across the street and talking to grumpy Miss Betty. We had the same birthday.

Miss Betty died three years ago, and Nina came to live with Mr. Jerry. He can barely walk and has Altzheimer's. Last week Nina died.

It's strange to look across the street and not see somebody poking around in that gorgeous, over-planted yard. I don't know that they'll sell the house, but I'll be curious to see who moves in.

I'll have to bring them an Easter lilly and tell them I have no idea what all's planted there. I never cared much for gardening.


Teresa Galler said...

Beautiful...from the attachment parenting painter to grumpy Miss Betty, now I know them all.

LTM said...

it's strange. I want to give them something now that it's too late. ... hard to describe.

JRichard said...

This is your best. History happens when you are not looking. Then you look back and there it is. You did just the right thing by Mrs. Betty and her family. We are in the next chapters.

aunt nancy said...

this one made me choke back tears. Then Richard's comment rendered my "choke back" response useless. Let me go dry my eyes....