Monday, July 11, 2011

Different Kinds of Southern Living

(This ran in The Times and The News-Star Sunday, July 3.)

Stopped by our old house in Shreveport this week, the one my son grew up in, the one we lived in until he went to college and I sold it 32 months ago.

I had left with the new owner a sentimental shadowbox and she’d put it on the porch for me to finally pick up. I’d thought the box would help her get used to the house. In the shadowbox is a wiffle ball and a ticket, the kind made out by a policeman and involving that particular wiffle, or, in this case, the “projectile.” Maybe I should tell you that story soon, how we got a ticket for playing wiffle, but for now, just know that the wiffle remains in its glass jail. You’re safe.

What I wanted to ask you today was whether you have ever moved and then gone by your old place. Strange.

I knew it was going to be different, but it was a different kind of different than I’d expected. The new owner had warned me about this. The new owner is very nice. I like her a lot. I would tell you her name but that would be indiscreet. (Heather. Her name is Heather.)

To me, she’d said, not six months after she’d moved in, “There aren’t any hats hanging on the walls now, and I don’t think we have any shirts in here with numbers on them.”

This I verified last week as I picked up the shadowbox. And snooped around.

I knew before I got out of the car that things had changed, and by changed I mean like the eastern sky changes as the sun rises. Drastically.

It’s like a Southern Living home. Really nice and cozy looking. Clean and charming. A lot of depth outside at the whicker position.

Most impressive is the front door, which is all glass except for a eight-inch dark wood border. Why didn’t I think of this? I’d just always left our all-wood door open. Once we had it closed and a four-year-old from down the street said on a walk with his mom, “Look momma, Mr. Teddy and Casey bought a door.”

They’ve redone the wood floors, put a dining table in the dining room (?!), and have furniture that doesn’t appear to have cat scratch marks on it. (That was Jingle Bell’s calling.) No run in the back, where Elfie and Spot had enjoyed much dog tomfoolery. It looks a lot deeper now, at least it does through the cracks in the fence. More whicker. Pool furniture. Seating areas. A BIG grill/bonfire thing. No trash trees. Flowers, extra landscaping, hanging baskets, and a small vegetable garden.

Even statues. Statues!

Hmmmmm…It’s evolved more, as it did even when I was there, when the swing set and fort had to go.

Even the grass I loved mowing is thicker and richer. I’d always kept it too tight because I’d loved mowing it, too much. And little feet that grew helped keep it beaten down.

I walked to the middle of the yard and knew it would be level. It was. The indention from where I’d pitched all those wiffles is now even ground. Home plate is no longer dirt. Sigh…

It’s not a big house, but it’s a good house. It holds a lot. And in my sentimental opinion, it’s still a pretty house, just like it used to be.