"MAMA!" Maia cried from her bed.
She was standing in her bed, looking out the window. It was too dark to see anything much. "Um! Mama! When I look out da window, I see letters."
She hadn't been asleep, so I wasn't sure what she was talking about. "Letters."
"Yah! Dere's letters outside!" She turned to me, eyes wide. "I see dem!"
"Ah. Hm. What are the letters?"
She turned back to the window. "C, H, A, I, S."
I squinted at where she was looking, half-certain I would see ghostly letters floating above the grass.
"Wait," she said. "Not A. Ah."
"Ah, Ah," she said, laughing. "Ahhhhr."
Chris lived in what is now Maia's room before it was Maia's room, many years ago. And many years ago, it seems he carved his name in tiny, tiny letters into his window.
When we moved out of the farmhouse, I was sorry to be leaving the history that had accumulated there. Parts of the house were almost 100 years old, and the dates on the abstract were earlier than when Minnesota became a state. The house we moved into was built in 1964 off the Better Homes & Gardens Home of the Year plan for 1964, and it shows. It has a flat roof and is decorated in what's described in the decorator's manual as "fawn beige."
"Oh look!" Matt's brother said when he saw the house for the first time. "It's the orthodontist office you always wanted!"
We've made this house our home, but still, I missed the farmhouse's past and mystery. In this house, there's no water in the basement, no bats in the attic (and no attic!), and no wondering about the many families that have lived here: There's been only one, and we've met them.
Earlier this year, Matt remade a walkout basement room into a den by pulling out the old woodburning furnace, scrubbing the walls and floor, doing some repainting and moving in the TV, daybed and throw rug. When he was almost done he washed the window and found "I love you Mom and Dad" carved into that window.
For all that people that lived there throughout the years, I never found graffitti in the old house.