There is something about the old, single-story houses near downtown Columbia, just north of Broadway and east of 9th Street. From the sidewalk it is easy to see that they have been well lived in; they wear faded coats of cracked and peeling paint and sit nestled in messy gardens. Inside, patched living room walls would tell stories of clumsy movers, rowdy house guests and drunken mistakes (the secret details of which are safely locked away). The squeaky hardwood floors are overdue for a proper coat of sealant; deep gouges track the paths of couches shoved aside for impromptu dance parties. For the people lucky enough to write their names on the mailboxes, the rent is cheap and everything of necessity is within walking distance. Food, music, bars, parks… However, new residents inherit lingering plumbing problems, drafty doors, unreliable sockets and other eccentricities, necessitating creative solutions. Little notes warn visitors, “DO NOT OPEN ALL THE WAY” “WATER VERY HOT.” Countless friendships, loving couples and budding families began in these homes.
Each house is caked in memories as thick as the grime around the stove burners, yet, like my favorite pair of winter boots, they feel comfortable and familiar as soon as I step inside. And when the stormy season starts each spring–the rain splashing against the shingles and running down the window panes–there is nowhere I’d rather wake up than one of those old houses.
Thanks to my great friends for opening their homes to me each time I visit!
If you have lived in or partied in any of these houses, please share a story…