For most of the time we have lived here, I have had the sense of some other spirit in the house. I could see her walking the steps, could feel her presence in the room at the top of the house. I clearly heard the name Esmeralda when I envisioned her here.
We put our house up for sale in April and had a contract on it within weeks. I began planning our move and writing an essay about Esmeralda.When I shared a rough draft with my writing group, it was suggested that I research who lived in the house in the hopes of uncovering a servant girl with that name.
Off to the courthouse I went to trace the deeds back to the origin of this house. The first owner was a circuit court judge named Otto Daniel Wolff. He and his wife, Christina had two children, a son who went on to be an architect, and a daughter named Ruth.
Warmth, Compassion, and the steadfastness of the human heart mark this novel of a girl who starts as a nameless orphan and becomes a person who enriches her world by her presence.
I'd like to think that the characters I have written about in this house provoke similar observations. It leads me to wonder at Ruth's compassion for others. Her empathy, and her love for the common person. She wrote about the migration of Appalachians to Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati; people looking for work when none could be found in their hometowns.
I truly believe we are stewards of the homes we live in, and therefore must respect and make better the environment in which we live. We leave this house at the end of the month, go into a rental space for a few months with a contract on another house. Believe it or not, the new place built in 1908 will have everything we need. Will it be like Ruth's house? No. But Ruth's house has served us well.
Ruth and I have written some good, good things here. She and her spirit will stay with me. I feel I am on the cusp of realizing my worth as a writer. All indications point to a journey of good things to come.
Amid packing boxes and long to-do lists, I call out Ruth's name. I read to her from her own book. This morning, this is what I read, a statement from the main character, Keturah."Slowly, painfully, I began to emerge. Along the way I found that no matter how small the gift you have to offer, if you give it generously it makes a place for you and opens a way."