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Yesterday felt like autumn, at least in the morning. I went for an early run, leaving my podcasts and music off so that I could enjoy the silence. There was fog, which holds the quiet like a snowstorm, and as the sun began its climb, it seemed like it might turn into a day that begged for soup. 

By midday, though, it was still summer. I should have known. It’s my ninth year living on the coast, and I always miss the fall. 

When I used to regularly run in the early mornings, I often paused to take pictures of the way the growing light divided the night from morning. Not infrequently, this house grabbed my attention. It faces an alley, visible to passers-by because of a parking lot that cuts through from the main street to the smaller road. It is somewhat run-down, maybe a bit rough, but the lit window in the pre-dawn glow hints at a sense of warmth. It sparks my curiosity: who lives there, what stories unfold daily, what tragedies and hopes do its inhabitants carry. 

It’s impossible to know what happens in a home. 

Lately I’ve been thinking of my own house. I moved here because it was one of the few places available when I arrived to look for housing. The deciding factor, more than anything else, was the washer and dryer. 

I imagined I’d be here for a little while. I did not thinkI would be here all these years later. I did not know that it would become my home. My home, the one in which so much of my life has happened in the last eight-plus years: puppies, marriage, divorce, pregnancy, pandemic, love, parenting. This is the house I brought my baby home to, the house to which I’ve returned after countless long days at work, the house I’ve cleaned and cleaned again, the house that has been a haven when the world has been too much. 

I’ve held every emotion in this house, and as I write that, I’m reminded of a heartbroken month I spent in Paris years ago. As the streets there absorbed my grief, I became indebted to them, pulled them forever in to me; I have a similar sense, as I look at this house. When I leave here, I will leave a part of myself and I will take a part of this foundation with me. It is an exchange. 

I like to imagine that houses do that, become a part of us. That in their walls are the echoes of former inhabitants, that to those hearts we are somehow connected. 

I have no idea what happens in that home I ran by yesterday morning. But I hope that the early-morning light inside glows for someone who is hopeful about the day, for someone who will return later and let out a sigh of relief to close the door behind them. Autumn or not-autumn, it is something significant, to have a place of our own. Autumn or not-autumn, a home can change everything.

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