Sally looked around. She was standing in a large open bright space. To her right was a sitting area with two couches, a coffee table, and an easy chair. Large windows on two sides flooded the room with light. Straight ahead of her was a baby grand piano. To her left was a dining room table with a Chinese paper lantern over it. A doorway at the far side of the room lead to another room that looked like it might be the kitchen.
She walked over to the piano and pressed some keys. Genna said, “It’s way out of tune. It was my mother’s, she gave it to me when my kids were little so that they would learn to play.”
Sally, “You don’t play it?”
“No, frankly I don’t even notice it anymore. I’m hoping that one of these years my son will settle down and then he can have it. Do you play?”
Sally nodded, “I used to. We had a piano when I was growing up but I haven’t lived with a piano for many years.”
Genna, “Why don’t I show you the rest of the house? Let’s start with the rooms that would be yours if we decide to do this.”
Genna led the way behind one of the couches to a staircase in the corner of the room. As she climbed the stairs she said, “These are two rooms up here and a bathroom.” At the top of the stairs was a small hallway with three doors, one facing the stairs, another next to it, and the third opposite the second. She opened the door immediately in front of her to reveal the bathroom. “It was painted by my daughter in her teen years. You see what I mean about needing paint?” said Genna.
Sally indeed could see, the room was dark purple and there were places where the paint was peeling. She said, “I’m taking it your daughter had a purple phase?”
“Oh yes. She loved this. Fortunately she didn’t paint her bedroom purple, but I’m not sure that what she chose is much better.”
She opened another door and stepped back. Sally walked in and looked around the room. It was large, with a sloping ceiling and two big windows at the gabled end. On one side a dormer gable had been built and it also had two windows. The furniture was a bed, bureau, and bookcases, and one wall was a painted with many colors in a sort of tie-dye pattern. The other walls were mauve.
Sally, “Yup, I think this room needs a new coat of paint! But otherwise it’s a very nice room. The big windows face east, right?”
“Yes. I’m assuming that I’ll empty out this room and the other one if you move in. You’ll have your own stuff.”
She opened the door to the last room. “This was my son’s room. I’ve cleared it out a bit more, as I have used this room as an extra guest room.”
This room shared a wall with the front room and had windows that faced west. It was slightly smaller than the first room. It too had a dormer window. These walls were white. It was furnished with a bed, computer desk, some bookshelves, and a marble-topped bureau with a curved front and elaborate carving on the legs and the edges.
Sally, “Oh my! That bureau reminds me of one my grandmother had. I always loved it. One of my cousins now has it.”
“This one was my mother’s. I inherited this and a few other pieces when she died. This is the only room in the house where I could put it, so my son used it. I guess I’m going to have to sell it if you move in,” her voice trailed and then she looked at Sally and said hopefully, “Unless you want to use it?”
Sally, “I’d love to, at least I think so. Oh the whole moving thing, I’m exhausted just thinking about it!”
Genna, “Me too. Remember when we could move by putting all our things in a car?”
“Oh yes. I once moved with all my things in a Dodge Dart. There wasn’t much room for me. The stereo took all the room along with the records. Oh those records. They were so heavy.”
“Dodge Dart? I remember those. My first car was a VW bug. I loved that car. It was red. Where were you moving to?”
“Philadelphia. My first job after college. I ended up living in Philly for fifteen years before moving here. Met my husband there, started our family.”
While they were talking Sally was surveying the room. She asked, “Are there any closets? I don’t see any in this room.” Genna, “There’s one in the other room. It’s not very big, I’m afraid.”
“Well, that’s a problem.” She stood quietly and turned slowly all the way around. “I really like the feeling of this room, both these two rooms. I’m trying to see them with the right paint on the walls and my stuff. I like how this section of the house feels separate from the rest. Where is your room?”
“Downstairs off the dining room. Let me show you the rest of the house.”
They went back down the stairs. As they turned, Genna thoughtfully said, “There’s a closet under these stairs. I use it for odds and ends. If I can find a place to put all those things, you could have this closet in addition to the one upstairs.” She opened the door and they both looked in. It was a deep closet with shelves on one side.
“Yes,” said Sally “that would certainly help.”
She followed Genna through the living room, past the front door and into the space with the dining room table. Genna waved her hand towards an open door on the other side of the table. “My room is there. It was an addition put on by the previous owners. I have a bathroom and quite a lot of space. My TV is in there and a chaise lounge that I use a lot. There’s also a door out to the garden. Honestly, the only rooms I really use in the house are my room and the kitchen. Here’s the kitchen.”
They walked through the dining room into a large kitchen. On their left was a windowed nook with a table. A bench ran along the back side facing the kitchen and two chairs faced each other at the head and foot of the table. On their right, a small kitchen island separated them from the fridge, sink and stove — each of them on their own wall with counters connecting them. The kitchen was spotless.
Genna, “On the other side of the kitchen is a laundry room and a half-bath. And that’s it, the whole house.” She paused. They looked at each other for a moment and were silent. Then Genna asked, “Would you like a cup of tea? I thought we’d sit in here and talk. That is, if you like the house enough to continue? ”
“Tea would be great, thanks. I do like the house and this kitchen. Do you like to cook?”
“I used to. I find that I’m lazy about cooking for myself. It’s so much easier to grab a yogurt or a bowl of cereal. Sometimes I’ll make a big pot of something and then eat it for the week. This is actually one of the reasons I started thinking about having someone live here. I’d like to share meals occasionally, like I said in my ad. Speaking of which let’s talk about our answers to that survey. I have a feeling that if we talk about all those items we’ll have a very good idea of whether we can live together. Would mint tea be okay?”
“Love mint tea. I have to get my printout which is in my bag that I left by the door.”
Sally returned with her bag, reached in and pulled out three pages. She sat down on at the table on the bench with her back to the window. Genna placed two mugs of tea on the table, and sat down in a chair at the end with her answers in front of her. At her side, Sally could see she also had papers held together with a binder clip. Reading the title upside down it said, “What to Talk About When Interviewing a Potential Home-Mate.”
She said, “I see you come prepared. Where did you get that? ”
Genna, “It was part of the Toolkit that also had the assessment. I thought we might find it helpful.”
Sally, “Great. So how do we begin?”
Is this story resonating for you? Have you had experiences like this? Or is it totally foreign? Comment below.