In the summer it’s the crickets – the resounding, creaky folk music they make at night; you won’t notice it until you’re finally all by yourself on the porch. The buzz is enveloping because the houses are tall and close together. You need to come up for air from the sound once you hear it. And spring means a thousand flowering trees you forget about every year until they make all that pale popcorn of tiny, white buds. The flowers get stuck in your hair; track across the hard wood from the bottom of shoes. Winter is the slender fingers of flickering gas lamps in the dark, lonely little orange flames out the front window. The windows are very, very cold in the winter.
I don’t particularly want to talk about fall and wolf spiders.
But I could talk more. I could tell you about the slices of sky I see: mansard rooftops silhouetted against streetlight-orange at night, deep blue in late August – almost unnatural. The Tetris game of old brick work. The creeping ivy like heavy hair over railings. I could say wainscoting. I could say a lot of things in an attempt to capture what life looks like played out in Belgravia Court every day. It’s where I live; it’s where I’m writing to you now. It’s home, and home is something that lives in your skin.
To try to exorcise home into words, to tell a stranger from memory what’s collected over years on your insides, is not easy. Or it could easily turn into everything – there’s so much to tell. But my story in Old Louisville is just one of thousands that will be laid to rest here on the sidewalk, and one of a thousand more that came and lived well before I ever set foot in the shade of these historic homes.
And that’s the key here. My home has a history, a long and winding tail of a thing that involves more people and dates and memories than I could ever hope to know. A history of numerous decades stacked like a layered cake. That’s more story than any one human has words to tell. Very daunting. But finding the words to paint a clear picture out of the murky past doesn’t intimidate everyone. For my fellow resident Shawn Fields Williams, the long and winding history of one home isn’t enough – try the entire neighborhood of Belgravia Court for starters.