I’d heard about the tornadoes that hit Iowa City last week, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I saw photos of the damage. As soon as I saw that that some of the worst hit areas were in my old neighborhood–I lived just up the street from this sorority house–I began to look all over Flickr to see if I could find out what happened to my old place.
For three years I lived on the first floor of an old house a mile off campus. It was perched on a little bluff overlooking a quiet intersection with a brick street. It had two porches, one off each bedroom, and an old-fashioned metal roof. Right after we signed the lease, my roommate and I showed the place to her mother, who declared it a deathtrap for about fifteen different reasons, many of them stupid.
“How are you going to keep people from just climbing in your windows?” she asked. We’ll lock the windows, we told her. She wondered alound if the carpet had mold, the deadly kind. Probably not, we told her. “The bathroom is upstairs? You’re going to fall down those stairs in the middle of the night,” she said. No we won’t, we told her. She was sure the place was filled with mice or termites or radon gas. (It wasn’t.) The floorboards might warp. (So what?) The gasket seal on the refrigerator could be better (The hell?) When she’d finally run out of things to find fault with, she stepped outside with us and peered up at the beautiful old tree in the side yard.
“That tree is going to fall on the house,” she said.
But as it turned out, it fell the other way.