The Door Without a Knob
I noticed, first, that the stairs were just the right height. I could go up them at a good pace, down without jarring the knees. I thought there had been a few more actual steps to these stairs when I had originally auditioned the house - but, no matter, going up and coming down are now just right. I had not counted the steps originally, and impressions can get muddled with so much in a house to apprehend.
I did count the rooms. I have always wondered if you count the bathrooms and any pantry if there is a pantry, and even the kitchen, as rooms. Is a house of four rooms a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen and a den? Or is a four room house three bedrooms, a living room, with one or two - or two and a half - baths implied, and the kitchen simply thrown in?
This house has eight or four rooms. Two baths, a kitchen, a storage room, two bedrooms, a living room, and the long laugh of a playful den.
As I thought about it, though, the storage room seemed larger. Really: what might you store in a room that large? I have no intention of stacking out of sight an entire boxed life; or giving away the floor space to shelves. There are closets and space under the bed to spirit the momentarily unused artifacts of life out of the way to wait in reserve.
So, at the last, five rooms it is. Or eight.
I had thought the whole place fully carpeted, but instead a rectangle by the front door four feet by eight turns practically into a fake tile runner: easier to clean, less likely to wear. I thought it had been carpet when I came in, but I could have been distracted by the brilliance of the windows: so many windows for the light to be happy with.
I am one to go through a door full force - neither angled, nor arm before body - so I am very pleased at the width of the interior room breaks. Most houses compromise. Some doorways are a squeeze; some a roundness of mouth, gasping for air. There is no need for any of that. A door is a way in and a way out, a welcome or a retreat. It does not need to call attention to itself. A door should be fulfilled through its use, not in its difficulty of navigation. Doors and doorways are means to locomotive ends. A homeowner should not have to ponder them.
I only just now noticed the window seats. I have fat cats that will claim them. In some homes the ledges are too high, but these seem lower than I have experienced elsewhere. My cats can conquer them without too great a series of exertions. And it seems the sun hits all of them, so a cat would not have to chase the light all day.
That half bath downstairs is just the perfect thing. I had thought at first it was a full bath, and I calculated: one more shower to clean. But it turns out that I was mistaken, and all the tubs are where they should be: in the baths upstairs, paired with the bedrooms they service.
I love the floor plan, the construction, the utility and the warmth of this house; but I am not sure that I can yet commit.
I have, now and again, ever since I arrived heard the wind in the eaves: ensnared, catching the wounded wanderlust of something - or perhaps the murmur of the central heating coming to the rescue of our air. At first, it was a coy moan, a whip of atmosphere hoping to find its rightful edges: a sound a man might respond to kindly, with nostalgia and the comfort of belonging. It seemed the sound of a first love dressing, or the hope of children sharing common secrets.
But as I reconsider the house, its cost and complexity, the sound has deepened, gotten itself wedged into something uneven and notched. Could be there is a gutter loose, or the fan in the HVAC needs a good calibration. There is almost stray desperation in the bravery of the ambient noise: a voice seeking repair. I do not know why I feel it so viscerally, as though it were speaking craft to my curious organs, singing poetry to the connection between my senses. It grows sad, an announcement of the need for regular upkeep, loneliness nailed on an exit.
There is much here to champion fondness. A house eager to please; a home where a family's imagination can run about in its underwear. I will keep it clearly in mind. But there are three others on the tour, and two came before. There is a practical magic to be worked before we can choose. Tell me, which was the door leading out, which way to the exit; and fathom, to you does that still gathering melancholy sound, shrugging its shoulders woefully in the attic, seem ever so much like a gathering wail?