A couple of blocks from the beach, we drove up a quiet residential road, lined on either side with old-growth towering banyan trees, the sidewalk edges painted with tell-tale ‘no parking’ stripes. On cue, both cars slowed down across from a gated house and idled at the side of the road for a few moments. A few of us got out, crossed the street, snapped photos, peered into the front garden. We weren’t trespassing, but how we would have loved to take a little peek inside…
A taxi pulled up in front of the house. A young woman inside glanced up at me, paid her fare and opened the door. Our eyes met. Do you live here? I dared to ask. Yes, she replied in perfect English, looking at me curiously; I grew up here, it’s my parents’ home. I lit up, rambled away with a story – our story, then turned to look for the others. She lit up herself, recalling her childhood and the history of her home (the name she knew well); then invited us to enter. With surprise at our well-timed arrival and appreciation (though somewhat shy to bring in the troops), we followed her inside.
The house had been in her family for generations; first purchased by her great-grandparents. It was the first one erected on the street, surrounded at the time by nothing other than sand. As the first residents, her great-grandparents were permitted to choose their own address; they picked 100.
For many years the house had remained in its original state, used by her ancestors only as a summer residence. Since the house had been empty for much of the year, the neighbors had nicknamed it… the witch’s house. She laughed at the memory. Since then, the house had gone through extensive renovations, extensions, modern updates. But still, everywhere, the roots remained. Original windows and ceilings, subtle – and recognizable – signs of the architect’s touch were evident everywhere.
She spoke of the house, her home, with such loving memory, that I’m sure we were all grateful that this beautifully designed house had ended up in her family’s hands for so long. It was clear that they had treated it as a gem, with great care, to be treasured for many more generations to come.
For us, it was a walk through time, and more personally, through a slice of our own personal history. It was one of the houses that Jules, my late grandfather, built.