My husband and I have been peeping in strangers’ closets. Opening drawers. Pulling aside shower curtains. Wandering in backyards. That’s what house hunters do.
Now that our nest is nearly empty, imagining a new urban life is fun. Can we embrace alleys? Funky one-car, unattached garages? Being able to see into our neighbors’ windows just across the way? Hear their TVs? I don’t know, but we’re trying to find out.
We’ll definitely enjoy being closer to the lakes and rivers that the Twin Cities are known for. Walking to neighborhood restaurants and coffee shops sounds good, too.
But it’s odd to step into these intimate spaces and glimpse the telling details of a stranger’s life:
One house has a small bedroom has a single bed with a flower power bedspread. A teal formal dress hangs from the closet door. Inside are classic black Converse sneakers. What does this teenage girl dream of when she lies in that bed—the homecoming dance? Wandering around a college campus in those sneakers?
In another house, there are two much loved cats. They have cat beds, food bowls, and water dishes upstairs and downstairs, so the kitties won’t have to go far for a drink and a snack. In the living room, two middle-aged women with their arms around each other smile out from what appears to be an engagement photo.
The next place we visit is across the river. The front door handle comes off in our hands and the backyard is full of weeds. The carpet is old and shabby and the bathroom has mismatched tiles. A motorized scooter sits in a corner of the kitchen. This place is sadder than the first two and looks like the owner was too ill or too tired to keep up with maintenance and yard work.
Another place we see has great landscaping and a newly remodeled kitchen and bath. It looks as if the family has out-grown the house. Upstairs is a pink little girl’s room with a large girl-sized decal of a purple My Little Pony on the wall. She has her whole life ahead of her, but it will be in a new house.
We too have a whole new life ahead of us—maybe in a year or two it will be in one of these neighborhoods. For now, we’re just trying on this lifestyle for size.