Three Houses

1. Every morning and evening, on my way to work and back, I walk past e.e. cummings’ childhood home. I would say the house is beautiful, but I can hardly see it over the twelve-foot tall wooden fence outlining its property, bearing on one wall a small, nondescript sign: “Former home of e.e. cummings.” I’m guessing it’s beautiful. I can tell you that the top of it, near its mossy shingled roof, is a cloudy grey-blue: it’s the kind of house, I think, that looks natural in its environment, camouflaged like another tree or piece of sky.

I like picturing little e.e. cummings in this wooden house with its crumbling brick sidewalks. I know next to nothing about his life, but I generally prefer it this way with dead people with whom I have fallen in love. Now every day that I pass that house, I envision him taking out the trash and staring at the moon. That’s what I used to do. e.e. cummings was exactly like me as a child.

2. One block from our apartment, there is a house that is a circle. I have no idea how they got the wood to do that, but it would seem that no one is properly appreciating it: the house is abandoned. The windows are boarded up precisely, with wood painted the same color the house once was. The pillars in front of the door are undamaged, and there appears to be a complex doorbell system wired outside: a black box with tiny buttons, completely untouched. A chain link fence surrounds the property, weakly outlining a wildly overgrown lawn that is massive for Boston (how is it that no one has created parking spaces out of this?), and translucent periwinkle paint peels weakly off the bleached wood planks, like strips of sunburned skin.

Approximately nine feet up the house and at equal intervals, someone has nailed “Beware of Dog” signs.

“Do you think there’s really a dog in there?” I asked Jurvis tonight breathlessly, holding his arm. I meant, of course, a ghost dog. Clearly nothing’s been alive in this building for a very long time, but the spirit of a pitbull seemed likely.

“Nah,” he responded. “Now, how did they get those signs way up there?”

Someday I will own this house and live in it. Just you wait and see. The fourth floor is its own observation room, a circle of windows that open onto a barren roof (which could be a kind of balcony if it were more properly guard-railed, made safer for drunk people and children). I will sit in this room with my dusty overstuffed chair, beady eyes and binoculars, and I will watch you point and stare at my strange circle house.

3. There is a large yellow house in Cambridge with two front doors and pink trim. It is absurdly massive in an old money way: it’s not trying to be big, it just happens to take up a lot of space. Undoubtedly it is lovely inside, because their garden is wild and heartbreaking.

I don’t know who lives there, but I’ve decided that I want to be the governess of their children and discover the insane woman in their attic.

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  1. Percentage of old people who are crazy: 100%

    Percentage of women who outlive their husbands: 100%

    My likelihood of being an old crazy woman living alone: 100%

  2. Reminded not to remarry? Check. And to stave off oldness? Check; will require further research…

    Yes: pics of this round, spectral house and its Brogdingnagian dog warnings, pls!

  3. there is a wild and heartbreaking garden in front of a tiny house in medford i used to pass on the way to tufts. you have a good list.

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