There is a house a few doors down from us that I am in love with. It’s one of the few remaining original (read: old) row homes on the street that hasn’t been torn down and replaced with a boxy, cookie-cutter, new-construction monstrosity. It has a glass pane front door, old doorknobs, a tiled foyer, and from what I’ve been able to see from stealing glances (read: peepin’ and a’creepin’) original fireplaces and a gorgeous flight of stairs with a carved banister. It finally went on the market a few months ago, for a staggering $500k, and my heart sank: there’s no way we could afford it. The house needs a lot of work; the windowsills are rotted, there’s no central air, the light fixture next to the front door has been hanging at a precarious 45 degree angle for a few months. But it has charm. And, judging from the curb-fulls of stuff that keep appearing every weekend as the landlord paints or cleans it up, it also has a treasure trove of junk. That it’s sat on the market even for this long without being snatched up by some greedy developer set on destroying all of the original character speaks volumes to what the house must look like inside, buried under stuff.
The frat boys that have lived there for the last however-many years have had to start emptying the home of their things, and there have been sofas, and giant tube tvs, and old dusty tables missing legs, and black trash bags full of clothes. And one day, strewn on yet another laminate dining table next to a Donald Trump book from the 90s, there was even this:
My Paris-sense went off the moment I opened our door to take Fitz out for a walk one afternoon. And as I approached that house and prepared to start Frogger-ing my way through the detritus that had exploded in yet another wave from the basement, I spotted this painting. It was undoubtedly Montmartre, with the domes of Sacré-Cœur in the background, and one of the many notorious street artists that line the little hilly streets of the neighborhood. In that moment I understood what the first discoverers of the Titanic must have felt.
Fitz, nowhere near the Francophile I am, of course kept pulling to the nearest tree to do his business, and I had to follow. We disappeared around a corner for less than two minutes, and the whole time I was sweating profusely, convinced someone else would come along and grab the painting before I got back. I cleaned up after Fitz and all but sprinted back to the trash pile where the painting sat, all but glowing and calling my name. Jamal actually high fived me when I burst in the door to show off my prize. WHAT ARE THE ODDS that just three doors away was a painting of my favorite neighborhood in Paris just waiting to be rescued? I may not be able to buy that house and restore it to all its former glory, but I’ll always have a piece of it.