We’ve spent this week watching with amazement the destruction of a room of a small guesthouse in our backyard. We have entered the realm of remodeling once again. When you own a house for twenty years, and figure you might as well stay in it until your children tell you it’s time to move to assisted living, “God’s Waiting Room,” as a friend’s father refers to it, remodeling is inevitable. Each night after the workers have departed, my husband and I run outside and have a look. Before demolition began, we expected a group of 6 or 7 men with sledgehammers giddily busting down walls. We expected incessant noise, nails flying, clouds of dust rising. Instead, we’ve watched as the room has slowly disappeared. First, the deck was removed, board by board. Next, the ceiling, then the windows and roof. The cabinets and ceiling fans were carefully set aside. The electrical wiring was rolled up, gathered and taped, the water sources capped. Today, the fireplace and chimney were dismantled. The front door is there as always, but opens to nowhere. Watching this room disappear day by day is almost like saying goodbye to a friend, slowly taking his leave of this earth. I didn’t expect to feel the least bit sentimental about the room’s departure, but I can’t help but feel a tad sad as a little bit of it disappears everyday.
We bought our 3-bedroom ranch-style house in 1995 and were thrilled by the little guesthouse in the back. “A place for our parents,” we thought. No way; they never stayed down there. My parents preferred a hotel room, and Bill’s parents stayed in the house with us. Maybe it had something to do with the lack of heat and the a.c. units in the windows? Now that my girls have left the nest, there are plenty of comfy bedrooms for guests in our house. So, the guesthouse is transforming into an office/trophy room/man cave. As the house has come down, I can’t help but look back at my red guest book which I’ve asked visitors we’ve hosted over the years, friends we never even knew back in ’95, to sign. A close friend’s Belgian relatives stayed there, became our friends, and wrote, “In this charming little guest house…we found for life welcome, friendship and pleasure to be with you.” Their children came a year or two later and wrote, “Thank you for your welcoming and your kindness. Our stay was great and funny!” Other friends came throughout the years, to run the Rock-N-Roll marathons in November, to stay over New Year’s, and for Fiesta frivolity. My girls’ college friends came from time to time, writing after one memorable weekend, “We enjoyed the view and sat on the deck both nights recollecting childhood memories.” So sarcastic! Other friends placed relatives there during family weddings and big birthday and anniversary celebrations. One came with very young children in tow; the little boy said to his dad upon awakening, “Daddy, I dreamed a plane landed on the roof!” Did I mention we live very near the airport? My sister and her kids stayed once when their a.c. went out, waxing poetic, “It was so great having such a comfortable place to stay… while our house was in such disarray.”
The guesthouse has welcomed a dear pal from Dallas who comes back often for monthly gatherings of our Supper Club, which we established 28 years ago just after we graduated from law school. For a few weeks one summer, we housed her son who was interning at The Current in San Antonio. When we remodeled our kitchen nearly five years ago, my husband, daughter and I moved to the guesthouse and lived there for three and a half months, which is quite a feat considering there was no washer, dryer, oven or cooktop out there – and only a dorm-size refrigerator! A friend’s daughter’s eight bridesmaids somehow made room on the two couches, the queen bed, and, I’m guessing the floor, for the big wedding weekend. Another time, my daughter’s closest girlfriends had a weekend slumber party there before one departed with her husband for Australia for a two-year stint. Last summer our niece, following her sophomore year at Trinity, made the guesthouse her home for a few weeks while she recuperated from a tonsillectomy.
The walls came down quickly, erasing all vestige of the gatherings of the past. Hopefully, they’ll come up again soon, bigger, better, with the promise of even more opportunities for fun, friends and family.