Toward the end of this most recent August I made a trip up to the house where I spent most of my summers as a boy. The journey was nearly rendered impossible by a disruptive late summer storm, Hurricane Lisa,1 which residents of the area should certainly recall as being particularly fickle and destructive. Yet I ended up arriving before the worst of things, the train pulling into Hartford Station (as to this day I do not drive) while gusts of rain clicked against the roof and windows of the train car, the fogged glass and roaring wind giving the oddest sensation of being removed from both space and time.
Two weeks prior I had received a letter, whose return address, long forgotten to me, I immediately recognized as originating from that very same house from my youth. How she, this “Ms. Truvine”, had come to find where I lived was unclear, but she explained that she had recently discovered in her home a box of items she believed had once belonged to me. Among these were a small collapsible telescope, an old wooden tennis racket, and a journal, the pages withered and beginning to yellow. Expressing her desire to return these to me, she invited me to visit and reclaim them at my convenience (it struck me as curious that she had not simply sent these initially, but her motives soon became clear to me). And so it was she who was waiting for me in the dreadful weather as I hurried across the platform, thoroughly soaked.
We ventured to the house in a curious silence. I had many questions that I eagerly longed to ask, but I was reluctant to break the quiet we had maintained, and so we drove on without speaking as the rain came down in sheets, the wipers clearing the glass, only to be inundated by water immediately after.
After what seemed like both eternity and mere minutes, we pulled up to the house (I do not know whether to call it “her house” or “my house”, as it seems either sounds somehow unfitting). The exterior had fallen into disrepair, the slanted roof missing tiles and the paint faded from its once glorious red. Yet through the workings of time and the sheets of rain, I saw the house that had once been so close to me. Unable to contain myself, I turned to the Ms. Truvine and stupidly said something about long awaited returns always being so strange. She simply nodded, seemingly in agreement, and urged me out of the car and into the house.
By this time, the storm had elevated to such intensity that the idea of my returning to the city was out of the question, and we somehow came to an unspoken agreement that I would spent the night. She helped me to settle in the room that had once been my own (whether she knew this or not I am unsure), and indeed, sitting at the foot of the bed, was the box in which I had stashed my treasures all those years ago. The night passed uneventfully. I listened to the rain pinging on the windows as I sifted through my things with a sort of melancholic amusement, and in the morning Ms. Truvine set out some tea before driving me to the station.
As we parted, she handed me a letter, clasping it tightly in my hands and looking deeply into my eyes. Sitting on the train next to my box of old reclaimed belongings, I opened and read her letter:
I am immensely pleased that you decided to come. I imagine there must be difficulties in such a return, but nevertheless I am incredibly glad you were able to make it. Ever since discovering your things tucked away in the attic I’ve become increasingly fascinated with their origins. Indeed the colorful notes and drawings I found in that journal of yours fascinated me to no end. As I read and reread them those fragments seemed to come alive, and they now feel no less a part of the house than the old birdbath on the patio or the chaise longue in the study. It only saddens me slightly that I was unable to question you further while I had your company - my impairment can be a nuisance sometimes.2 It pains me to part with those treasures that have fired my imagination so, and I would be overjoyed and much obliged if you were to send a fuller history of your time here. I’ve gotten a sense, but now that I’ve caught a deeper look into the past, I only hope I can learn more about what transpired here before it’s too late. If you choose to respond, I imagine of course that you’ll know where to reach me.
Gena V. Truvine
I thought almost constantly about her letter and all she had said, as those finals days of August drew on and summer rolled into fall. I am not entirely certain why, but I was compelled to give her a most complete summary of what she had gotten mere glimpses of, this compulsion driving me to compile a history of my final summer at that home. These are the fruits of my labors.
1 The irony of which, I assure you, is not lost on me dear reader. At the time of my trip I was ignorant of both the coming storm and its unfortunate title.
2 I admit with extreme embarrassment that it was not until several weeks later that I realized Ms. Truvine was completely deaf, a fact that I had forgotten she had mentioned in that very first letter.