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Mom came to town last weekend.  She got to see the renovation work on Lakeland.  On Sunday we took her to an estate sale in north Austin.  It was a smaller house in a middle class neighborhood, but something about this house triggered a flood of memories for me.  Basically it reminded me of the house I grew up in.
My mom has lived in that house for 45 years.  She’s been on a mission lately to clear out her house.  “Amish simplicity” seems to be her target decor (which makes her really hard to shop for).
I was in one of the rooms with her when she pointed out that some of the crystal items were 75-100 years old.  The candy dish she was holding looked and felt just like the one we had growing up.  The wood floors in this room were obviously original but in great condition.  The ceiling was painted dark blue and had little stick-on stars in constellation formations.

  • The record collection from the 1960’s and explaining to my daughter what the catalog listing on the back was all about…
  • The microwave cookbooks and what they must have tried to make when they first got it…
  • The front porch light fixture and the surface of the bricks.  When did they put in that CFL bulb?  How many lingering goodnights were spent under that light?…

So many memories are associated with the physical aspects of houses.

It got me thinking about some of our renovation projects, too.  Like that wholesale property the family had gotten evicted out of
– 3 lawn mowers & 5 bikes
– coloring books and notebooks with homework
– the writing on the inside of the closet
  • Or that flip in Round Rock with the plywood sheets glued and screwed on top of the original hard wood floors.
  • Or busting up that massive brick planter in the middle of the living room in Pflugerville.
  • Or digging up that stump in 78704 between the house and the detached garage and turning the hole into a water fixture.
 We renovate houses.  In the process we almost always replace many of the physical features of these houses, which would trigger memories for someone.
– We paint over the marks on the walls
– We patch the hole in the wall (from that time someone opened the door too quickly)
– We change out the bathroom sink where someone brushed their teeth for years.
– We change the door knobs, including the one that was all scratched up from someone trying to figure out how to unlock it from the other side with a coat hanger.
– We replace the vinyl countertop (with that burn mark from that candle 25 years ago).
– We take up the flooring and fix that squeak on the left side of the hallway just before the door to the second bedroom
– We refinish the bathtub that still has the glue marks from those non-slip stickers, the last of which someone pulled off 12 years ago.
When we finish our work, a new family from a different generation will live there.  New memories will be created there, to be triggered by the wood floors, granite countertops, the light fixtures, the bathroom towel rod.  Some other eyes will learn the pattern of the tile and other ears will learn the signature sounds this house will make.
Goodnight kisses on the front porch
Hide-and-go-seek in the back yard and finding all the unique hiding places around the house
New scribbles on the closet wall
And some other brain’s imagination will contemplate the future while staring at the ceiling