In 1971, my parents bought a tiny one bedroom home in the Bryant neighborhood in Seattle. Rumor has it the area was once a fruit orchard, and this house was formerly one of the pickers’ shacks. Two of my brothers moved in and set about remodeling the house in the style of the day (fake paneling, suspended ceiling, Con-Tact wallpaper). After the two brothers moved out, the house was rented at a ridiculously low price to another brother, two of my brothers ex-girlfriends, three of their friends, again to one of the original brother occupants, a cousin, and finally to my husband and me when we married in 1982. You would never find a cozier nest, and once the walls were painted and original ceiling restored, it was 575 square feet of bliss. A few years later, we purchased the house from my parents.
After twenty-one years living in a very small house, my husband and I were yearning to breathe free and decided to undertake a remodeling project. Given the main floor’s decided slant and the persistence of the backyard’s incursion into the basement (i.e., piles of dirt seeping in faster than they could be shoveled out), we took the advice of our contractor and chose to demolish the home and build anew. Amazingly, the house next door was available for rent during our entire building project.
A few tears were shed as the tiny structure and the old pear tree in the front yard were carted away, but once the outline of the new house was roped out, excitement took over. The night before the foundation was to be poured, we brought a container of my parents’ ashes to where the ‘cornerstone’ of the new structure would be and buried it there, honoring their generosity and making them a part of our new home. There’s a stereo in that corner of the house, and every now and then I swear I hear Dad yelling “turn that darn thing down!” Sometimes I agree with him.