Today it was a treat when I was invited in to see my next-door neighbor’s house. And I was intrigued to discover that his great great grandfather was the one who built it. The house belonged to his family’s estate and was being sold decades ago when he gave his wife a tour of the home and she found herself in love with the architectural elegance of the home and perhaps the stairwell in particular. He said that she envisioned it being a place their daughters could make a grand entrance for their proms – wonderful for photos. *smile* And, it is truly lovely.
Our neighbor also shared that his great great grandfather helped start the local university (as I had known), built the homes in most of the neighborhood with his construction company and that James J. Hill hired his great great grandfather’s company to help build his mansion on Summit Avenue at the turn of the last century (because of their level of proficiency). Our neighbor’s great great grandfather also built our house and it originally belonged to one of the members of his family.
It was an eye-opening chat. For one, it occurred to me how little we all know about each other these days… I found it very difficult to know how to begin to discuss our families (my husband’s and my own) but I did say a tiny bit. I’m sure over time more will be discussed. But it’s frustrating to know where to begin.
See, the thing is, our neighborhood, and our next-door neighbors especially, adored the last owners of our home. And our next-door neighbor, the one I talked with today, basically is the heir of this community (although he might not say that himself). One has to respect that. You just do. And people aren’t taught how to do that in today’s culture (and haven’t been admonished to do so for too long) but things still adhere to the way humans have organized themselves for centuries.
My husband and I have our own identities (I’ve shared a lot here for better or worse) and our own plans for our property but one doesn’t want to offend what’s already in place. To do so is…not wise.
I love the history of my new neighborhood. Seeing inside the turn of the 20th Century home next door was delightful. Hearing our neighbor’s family’s rather grand place in this city was an honor. It’s rare to hear so much first-hand (so-to-speak) and as someone who cherishes history, that was an amazing experience.
But, I worry.
We’ll be here for at least five years unless the company my husband works for gives him an Earth-shattering offer and we have to move to Boston. It’s just that I wonder if we need to move somewhere nearby where there are more young(er) families. I suspect our neighborhood would have liked an older couple with no kids to buy our house and not us. The gardens in the front, back and to the sides require daily attention (as our neighbor very kindly noted today). I try to do my best, but with everything else going on it’s tricky. Perhaps I’ll adjust and time will magically emerge. Ha!
And, the silly thing is, when we bought our house we did so because it seemed financially prudent – it was at the lowest end of our price range. We could have bought a much more expensive house. So, frankly, I wasn’t entirely expecting to have these sort of neighbors (even though it is admittedly a very nice house in a historic neighborhood). And I like them, love what I learned today but highly regret not taking the hint from the previous owner at closing when she said, “It’s a nice neighborhood.” *sigh*
We could hire someone like my in-laws do to tend to things… But besides being financially draining I highly doubt our neighbors would think that that’s admirable. They’re wonderfully Midwestern in that way. You fend for yourself and enjoy it. Every fragrant, aesthetically brilliant, time-consuming moment. And I actually love that. It’s how I was raised…
I like them. But, we’ll see.