Our house was empty for three years.
Empty houses have a rhythm. There are the things that come at night: The addicts that steal the wiring from the cellar, making repairs twice as hard. In our house’s case, the neighbors tried to deter them, wouldn’t lend them their wire cutters. But the guy went ahead and ripped out a bunch of copper. He then went and overdosed.
There is the day, when the kids push aside barbed wire and weeds and shoot the windows out of the stone barn. It let a bevy of creatures in, including the birds that shat all over the nasty carpet, the piles of cigarette butts, the beat-up stereo cabinet and old country 45s left in hay loft-turned-man cave.
You find the oddest things in an empty house: milk jugs filled with used needles, lists of what appear to be social security numbers and last names. A mural of frolicking gods. A disgusting, mouse shit-filled garment bag from hell. A fucking player piano, complete with rolls. We rolled that two-ton thing down the road, to a neighbor’s. It was like some nightmare hipster music video.
Now we live here, temporarily filling this empty house. We are stewards, keeping track of the adze-marked beams, the wavy glass. We don’t have forever to be here, and we owe the place a debt. Of gratitude, for the way the windows capture moonlight as if it were the blinding illumination of a parking lot. Of work, the constant chores of replacing, repairing, sweeping, washing.
We will come and go, but before we do, we will fill the place the best we can.