Sunday, July 1, 2012

It all comes back to that house

It wasn't that long ago that I wrote about my Granny's old house.  I cannot fully describe what it is that tethers me to it, but it's a strong bond that refuses to be broken no matter how much time passes.

My Dad is in town this weekend & we spent some time visiting yesterday afternoon.  During that visit, he told me that my Grandpa heard that the house was going to be demolished.  My heart sank.  No one will probably believe me when I say this, but the legend is that the man who built the house hid something in the wall of the fireplace.  No one knows what it is, or if it's true, so Grandpa said that if they demolish it, they would be dismantling the fireplace rock by rock to see if they could find the hidden treasure.

The idea of that house being bulldozed to the ground sends a chill through me.  All those memories reduced to a pile of rubble.  It's unfathomable.  I know that time moves on & that the house is older & needs A LOT of work to restore it to it's previous splendor, but it's just unreal to think of it being gone.  All night I thought about it & decided this morning that I couldn't wait for that to happen. I had to go out there & talk to the family who owns it now & find out what their plan is.  I decided I'd ask about salvaging anything sentimental that could be salvaged if they were going to tear it down.

For the first time in 17 years, I walked up that gravel driveway and stepped foot on the old wood porch.  I knocked on the door off the kitchen, where years before I would have just sauntered in.  Everything seemed so small compared to what it had been like when I was a kid.  Just being on that property felt as if something within me snapped into place.  Something that had been missing or dislodged since Granny passed.  The folks living there now are renters, but the family who owns it still live next door.  So I went over & chatted with the sister of the current owner.  She had lived there for years, but has been renting it out ever since.  She assured me any plans to sell or demo the house are a long way off.  At least 5 years, she said.  She was so kind & helpful & we exchanged contact information.

The name is still on the mailbox.
As we drove off, the relief was immeasurable.  Without so much as a word from me, Justin said, "If they sell that house in five years, we should try to buy it or work something out with your family so that even if it sits empty, the family owns it again."  This, my friends, is why I love my husband.  He just gets it.  He understands, without me saying a word, why I feel the way I do.  Why I hold so tightly to certain things.  Why I can't let go of that house & what exactly it meant to me.  He never experienced the magic that was the Hilsinger house, but he understands it's hold on me.

It's possible that the current renters will let me walk through sometime.  I really just want to see some of the main things I recall: the doorway where my dad & his siblings carved their initials, the concrete where they all put their footprints.  The rock fireplace, the hardwood floors I once skated on.  If standing in the driveway impacted me that much, I can imagine how overwhelming it will be to step foot in that house again.  It will be amazing.

Today needed to happen.  I needed to speak up & talk to the people who own the house & hear the stories.  She was so kind & welcoming & happy that I contacted her.   It also made me smile a little when she wrote down my name: Trish Sams (Ritzinger).  There was a time when I couldn't wait to be rid of that name.  Not just b/c I wanted something simpler so I didn't have to spell it out & pronounce it all the time, but b/c I wanted my own identity.  Now I have a simpler name & an identity, but I'm also proud to be a Ritzinger.  Proud of my roots, as crazy as they are, as hard as they are to pronounce.  From my hands, to my wavy mess of hair, to my loud mouth.  I'm a Ritzinger & a part of me will always belong on Hilsinger Rd.

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