People keep coming in the house, looking this way and that way, checking out the dining room where fifteen miscellaneous projects are arranged carefully, clockwise, around the table. They walk towards the backyard, sniffing over the dishtowel, crumpled, next to the coffee mug from this morning and the plate half slick with remaining egg yolk and toast crumbs. They scan the walls, the floors, judging the painting hanging slightly too far to the right and the pile of magazines, about 25 high, next to the stack of books, even higher, on the coffee table. There’s a corner of clothes waiting to be folded on the couch. Some balls of yarn on the floor by the basket. And the kitchen carpet, the blue one of respectable size and pile, is in the washer. They will never know that I am a person that has that kitchen carpet. They will forever believe I am a kitchen carpetless heathen with toes touching the cold linoleum at 2am while making toast.
They imagine their table where mine is. Their living room set where mine is. Their beds, linens, bathroom items including shaped soaps that look like seashells and stars, where my homemade candles sit in their small clay plant reservoir, just the perfect size for three laid in a triangle.
They come back downstairs, moving as a herd, the mom who judged the way my bed was (not) made, the dad who thinks the two plungers in the garage are a sure sign that the plumbing must be bad, their pre-teen girl chewing gum (she probably touched Alex’s jewelry on the table by her bed and smelled her perfume in the bathroom), their 5-year-old boy holding the railing, trailing his fingers on the side (they probably have something sticky on them from breakfast, like grape jelly or syrup and I bet he picked his nose and left a disgusting booger on the railing about half way down) and the toddler girl, too cute for words but she stole one of my kitchen magnets and put it in her pocket. If confronted, her mom will probably call me a liar and send her co-worker’s son, who belongs to a bad group of kids, over to steal our TVs when we’re out. I don’t really care about the magnet. It’s one of the butterfly ones that say cliché things like ‘Love is in your heart!‘ and ‘Today is the First Day..‘ blah blah blah. I imagine her finding it two days from now, cleaning out the pockets for the wash, and immediately feeling embarrassed. Her face will turn red and she’ll wonder if I know. I know.
And they are just one group of many. We are the attraction in the zoo, sitting on the couch and pretending to not notice them as the landlord takes them around and shows them the many benefits to this lovely home like the dog run sans dog, the spacious Great Rooms with dual fireplaces and the automatic sprinkling system. Doritos commercials have never been so captivating.
Mostly, I don’t stay around when the people come out on their excursion. Mostly, I go to the market or the book store and waste an hour looking at more books to add to the Haven’t Read Yet pile or stay in isle 4 reading the backs of cereal boxes. Honey Nut Cheerios are not a good read. And I can’t wait to be in our new home, away from these people looking at our old one, where we don’t really live anymore. So I guess I better get out there and look through more homes. But only empty ones.