A MAP Project

About Location

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Street View by Rachel Rushing

PERMEABLE SPACE 
EMILY RIGGERT
 
There are seven houses on my street. Mine is the red one. Built like a bomb shelter with post-war steel, the inspector said—strong, but not impervious to change. I come third in a line of its owners since 1948, a fact that makes ownership feel transient. A placeholder, a stewardship. There are others who have looked in the backyard and thought, “my pecan tree.” 
Inside, there are creases where the walls have shifted. Doorways filled in and reopened a few feet away. Floorboards pulled up and feathered back into place, the histories of feet burnished into the grain. The paint on the walls is white covering purple covering yellow. An artifact in layers. 
 
The other houses in my neighborhood are the same: on their second or third owners, but still largely the unchanged on the exterior. The generation of second owners is in their seventies, born the same year the houses were. I can imagine these homes breathing as the people have, swelling with summers, cracking in the winters, and all the while our walls inside have been slowly turning, opening and closing to fit us. 
 
I am not native to this particular neighborhood that I live in now, although I was born in Dallas and I have lived in my current zip code for eight years. It feels more like home than where I grew up, a place where homes’ walls are being torn down completely, obliterated in favor of taller ones with jagged rooflines and brick façades that give way to vinyl siding. When I was a teenager I roller-skated through those new homes being built, listening to the deep hum of wheels on particle board sub flooring. I spun myself around exposed two-by-fours, and felt them bend under the centrifugal force of my body. Those houses were not built with post-war steel.
 
Now in my own red house, I lie on the floor in the mornings and press my back against its chill, bending to press hands, cheek, forehead and foot onto the wooden planks. An imprint in motion. In the evenings, I walk past the houses lining the streets around me and imagine who is inside, and what life they are breathing into history 
 
From Let’s Talk Issue#1, Hablemos