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One house that lingers in memory

She still misses the old farmhouse where she and her family used to live.

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Have you ever thought about a house long after you moved out and wondered who lives there now? Do their children play in the trees? Do their dogs sleep on the back porch like ours did?

The house that fills my thoughts from time to time isn't fancy. In fact, anyone else, given the choice, probably would never have rented the one-bathroom farmhouse to begin with. But our small family (one child, another on the way, and a husband who was returning to college) needed a reasonable rent and a landlord who didn't mind that we were "owned" by two dogs, two cats, and two horses.

So in the year 2000, $285 a month for a three-bedroom house with five acres, 10 miles from town, was right up our alley. Our landlord, Marvin, wore overalls, had pens in his front pocket, and wore his combat boots unlaced. He was right up our alley, too.

The tenant on his way out was a single man who worked at the local community college – past the low-water bridge, down one dirt road, one paved road, and to the left. We walked through the door of our new rental home, and we felt empty.

"It seems hollow," my husband said.

"It almost seems as if it was waiting for us," I countered.

And it did.

The house had been waiting for some life – kids, animals, hand-sewn curtains, and furniture that fitted without being cramped. We heard the echo of our first ring of laughter all the way down in the basement and back up through the heating vent. The basement was a huge selling point and our future safety from Tornado Alley.

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