Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Harbor Master's House

The streets turn rather wholesome a few blocks from my building. There are old-timey store fronts, sadly empty, and houses (I'm not kidding) with garages. The houses sit in the middle of industry, former and not, large brick warehouses, one of which is a recycling plant, and there is an electric generator that hurts my molars every time I walk by.

I pass these streets on my short walk to what the Mister and I nicknamed the Harbor Master's house. It's properly called the Commandant's House and a high-ranking naval officer (sounds so officially belly button) used to live there. The Harbor Master's house was privately owned by someone who also collected antique cars and these cars used to line the long drive-way leading up to the house. Every once in a while you can see kittens mewing between the tires. The house is gated and wrapped with friendly barbed wire, but it's still obvious that the house was really a ship that somehow lost its contract with the sea and unexpectedly found a resting place near my neighborhood. In the summertime, the windows are open and I always wonder who needed cooling off inside.

Six months or so ago, I heard that the house had been sold and may become an office building. When I arrived there yesterday, I was greeted with signs warning me that this was private property and such. Some workers were doing something on the roof. I guess this is the beginning of the end, the recycling of space. I don't know why I care, why it would bother me for the Harbor Master's house to not be a house anymore. All but one antique car is gone; maybe it won't start. 

Summer Hours, the new and incredibly beautiful film by Olivier Assayas, comes to mind. The recycling of space. What family argued over the Harbor Master's house? Who decided to sell it and why? In Assayas' film, three siblings deliberate what to do with their family home after their mother passes. A reminder: everything was someone's. You'll never walk by a chair or table in a museum without thinking of this film.

I'm sorry the photos aren't better. I didn't have a bike or anyone's shoulders to climb on to take a better picture. You'll come see the house before it's gone? We might get to see the man who drives an electric car and honks at everyone he passes. 

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