A variation of Pennsylvania Dutch style, the yellow house is one of three "brides" that were built together in the early years of the 20th century. They all have small rooms and beautiful wood-paneled walls and lots of charming details, such as inset cabinets and hardwood floors. While growing up, the little yellow house was occupied by an unmarried and kindly woman named Flora Innes, who walked up our hill every night and past our house, after having been dropped off at the bottom of the street from her wearying factory job. Flora knew all our names by heart and greeted each of us. She was a sweet, lovely woman who had suffered childhood polio and walked with a marked limp.
After I took an online spin around the inside of Flora's old house, my daydreams began to ignite. You see, I am in love with a boy I went to high school who lived not too far away from Flora and from me. Since I "re-met" this boy many years after first laying eyes on him in 7th grade and long after Flora had been gone, I began to imagine all the what-if's that surprisingly bubbled to the surface since spying Flora's yellow house in my in-box.
What if my love and I had found our relationship back in high school? What if we had actually married all those years ago? What if we had bought the yellow house from Flora's relatives when it first hit the market 40 years ago and what if we had a family of our own in the yellow house and what if we had had a long life together? I even went so far as to imagine myself taking family china out of one of those delightful built-ins and setting the dining room table for Tuesday night dinner with his now diseased parents! In our house...our little yellow house???
I always believed that the dream of what might have been is the most painful dream to let go. We watch our fervent wishes slip from outstretched hands like rocks dropped from a bridge that disappear into dark water. But that is only a tragedy when one has to do an abrupt about face of no choice of their own. I don't feel the dreams of what-if have a similar power over us. After all, who's to say that the girl I was 40 years ago was ready for that boy I now love? Who's to say I would have felt the spell of the little yellow house in the town I was so sure I wanted put in my rear view mirror as quickly as humanly possible? Time changes us...it grinds us and then polishes us if we are open to its lessons. Only then can we become whole or at least more of who we were meant to be in the first place. And then there is love - what of love? Well...love carries its own timepiece, doesn' it?
My fantasies about the little yellow house resulted in some magically entertaining reveries for driving to work last month but I have since discovered "my" house has been sold to a pair of young newlyweds. I was told that they have already erected a matching shed in the postage stamp of a backyard, replete with matching shutters and window boxes. I would have done that first too. And their parents often come to help. I just know they are enjoying that marvelous wood dining room with the built-ins, which no doubt are storing some family treasures. I'm so happy for them and I believe that somewhere, dear Flora Innes is happy too.
As for me, I am now wearing the diamond ring that once belonged to the beloved mother and guest at my imaginary Tuesday night dinners. And I've learned that any color home can be my yellow one - our view and our reflections are ever-changing. Like wine poured through water...