Tuesday, May 30th, 2006
If Houseblogs.net were a physical place, it might just be Eutaw, Alabama. Nowhere except online (and on football-loving college campuses) have I ever found such a community of people all obsessed with the same thing.
Maybe it’s this way in all small, historic towns, but I think we love our houses even more in Eutaw because they’re all we’ve got. Our poor little burg has nothing much going for it except the old buildings. The county is poor; the square with its non-functioning fountain is a little sad; the schools have a terrible reputation; and the grocery store doesn’t carry a good variety of 100 Calorie Packs.
Instead, we take pride in our old homes. In other towns you might be introduced by who your relatives are, who you know, or where you work. Not in Eutaw. When you see folks out and about in Eutaw – and you inevitably do see someone you know or almost know – you introduce yourself by house. My standard greeting is, “I’m Kristin, we live in the Parkins’ house?”
Then they’ll say, “Oh, I love that house!” and/or tell me they knew Mrs. Parkins. Then they’ll ask how it’s coming or what we’re working on. And when I tell them, they actually care!
Many of the old house owners in Eutaw have been here for years, and they’ll reminisce about the time when they were like us, newly married or freshly retired, working on the house, spending money, living amidst the dust and disrepair.
Then they’ll tell us how glad they are we came here. How thrilled they are to have new people – young people, in particular – coming in and taking care of the houses.
And the talk will always turn to the needy houses in town. When one comes up for sale, we all turn into salesmen and try to find the “right” buyers who will love it the way we all do. And we sit around at dinner and discuss what we’d do if it were ours. In private, we calculate whether we could swing it, whether we’d sell it or rent it or open a business in it.
I think we’d all love to buy every neglected house in Eutaw and rescue it. We’d all love to see every house painted.
But that’s not to say we agree on every point. Some folks are die-hards, some folks are compromisers, some folks just want a pretty shell to fill up with modern stuff. Whatever our opinion, it’s usually a strong one. And if you’re not at dinner, you’ll probably get criticized for some of your choices.
People, too, aren’t afraid to give constructive criticism right to your face, and some are bolder about it than others. We love these houses, and we want them protected. If that means being a little blunt now and again, well it’s for the greater good.
Likewise, you learn to take criticism and advice, heed what you will and ignore the rest.
See now why it’s like I’m living in the middle of Houseblogs.net? And why I love it so?