Old houses sitting on the side of the roadways, looking like the scene of a generation lost. With their unkept yards, peeling paint, and shattered windows. And I would steadily gaze as I drove by slowly, wondering, what happened so long ago? Did children swing from an old tire swing hanging from a fraying rope? Did their mother fix homemade pies and Sunday suppers? Did everyone grow up and move away, leaving Grandpa alone, rocking on the porch?
Finding your way in life sometimes begins with a simple thought or interest, undoubtedly that's what happened to me. It seems that one day I woke up, put my feet on the floor, and decided I was going to buy one of those old houses. I was going to bring it back to life, give it a fresh start. It was the day my light bulb flickered on, and somewhere inside my dreamy mind, I had sense enough to not kill the switch.
I was a stay-at-home mom. I painted my own walls, fixed a few leaks, and rearranged furniture. I had never completely remodeled a house before. But, my idea became a destination. It was as if an outside force was driving me to preserve one small piece of a stranger's history.
I bought my first house, and I learned as work progressed. Then I bought another. It was bigger, and the skills I had were better. And so the pattern continued. Houses labeled "uninhabitable" became the envy of the neighborhood.
I'd stand there looking at the house and ask myself, "What does this house say to me?" And the right house would always reply, "I'm old but worthy of your time. I am broken, but I can be healed." Each house I chose was like no other. It's blueprints stemmed from a family's needs at the time. And as I walked it's dusty hallways and repaired it's battered soul, the secrets tucked away in the walls would begin to whisper.
With great care, I would remove the layers, then embark on preserving the character of my new purchase. I discovered its many attributes and showcased its unique features. My goal was to attract a special family that belonged in the house. And there was always a family. One that would walk in the door and feel like they had finally come home. My restoration had created a sanctuary that carried a promise for a better tomorrow.
I never felt more alive than the years I was fixing old houses. I began my journey at at time when like the home, I too was broken. And looking back, I'm not sure who healed who in the process. All I can really tell you, is when the spark ignites and flame begins to burn, gather all the wood you can haul and feed the fire.