House Hunting

Mary Ruefle

Spring 2017

When we lived in the blue house we were happy. But it didn’t have a porch or a fireplace, and we knew these things would make us happier. That was when we bought the yellow house with a porch and a fireplace, and we were happy in the summer sitting on our porch, and happy in the winter sitting in front of the fire, but we weren’t happy in the kitchen or the bedroom or the living room of that yellow house, fall and spring were especially hard, when it was too cold to use the porch and too warm to build a fire. That was when we bought the white house, where we were happy in the kitchen and in the bedroom and in the living room, and we had a porch and a fireplace — having once had them we would never give them up. The porch was smaller than our first porch but we didn’t mind a bit. The fireplace was larger, though, and even if the fire was roaring all the heat in the house went straight up the chimney and we began to actually shiver. We were so cold we put on our coats and went for a drive, we drove past the blue house and looked at it with nostalgia, we drove past the yellow house and got a lump in our throats, but not so big we couldn’t swallow it. On our way home we passed a red house with no one in it, there was no For Sale sign but we decided to have a look anyway, we walked around the red house and peeked in all the windows, and there were a great many of them. So much light and privacy! The house was set back from the road and had an enormous yard behind it, it seemed to go on forever and then continue into the woods that bordered on a state park that bordered on a national one. With so much privacy we wouldn’t need a porch and with so much light we wouldn’t need a fire. But without a For Sale sign, who should we call? We decided to ask around, so we drove to the nearest house and knocked on the door. Is the house next door for sale? we asked. The red house? they said. It’s been like that for years.

Mary Ruefle is the author of, most recently, My Private Property. She is the recipient of numerous honors, including this year’s Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry.

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