I had one of those moments the other day when past and present morph together. We live in a house built in 1875, and the man who owned it before we did and restored it himself, was driving down our street. I didn't recognize him at first. He looked at me and I looked at him and then I remembered. My husband and I invited him in to see the place, and I wish I could describe his face as he was walking up the steps. I apologized profusely because the house was cluttered, and I explained why it was cluttered, and that I had big plans to do something about it, but he didn't care about that. And really, I didn't either.
He stood in the hall and looked up. "I almost got rid of that molding," he said. "We had such trouble making this work." We love it, I told him. He walked into the living room, shaking his head and grinning: "You wouldn't believe what this room looked like — we had so much smoke blowing out the window when we were doing the repairs, the fire department came." He walked to the fireplace and put his hand on the mantel. In room after room, he told us the story of fixing up the house — the parts that were easy, the ones that were hard. He was honest, too — "I should have done that better," he said in a few places. It was an emotional time. He still loved this house — he'd put his heart into it. We got to the guest room and that room is always filled with memories of how my friend came and helped me decorate it — she had her van filled with wonderful things — what a lovely, long weekend that was. We talked about our families and what the last seven years have been like since he sold the house to us. And when he left, I thought, his heart will always be in this place. Any time we put our heart into something, I think a part of us is carved into the work. What a colossal difference that makes.