It was the four of us, a Volvo 240 and a 20-foot U-Haul. We were moving to Maine. Originally, my parents had fallen in love with a charming cape in Bowdoinham. I remember that its interior was filled with unique nooks, like a kitchen pantry that felt like a secret hideaway. But, as the token smart aleck of my family, I noticed that there was a lock on the outside of the door that led to the upstairs. I knew I wouldn’t fare well in the “Go to your room” category with this much-too-convenient security feature allotted for my disciplinarians. Hence, I wasn’t exactly disappointed when another buyer swooped in with a higher bid.

Even more special than the spooky basement and hairy walls of the new house where Beatrice Talmage and her family were living was its proximity to the home of a girl her own age. Courtesy of Beatrice Talmage

Instead, we moved to Gorham into an old three-bedroom colonial home. And, to my liking, this house had two stairwells. I was pretty excited about this place, too, because there was a huge field through the woods, and my brother and I had plans to sled there in the winter. I had often heard my parents repeating that “Old houses have character,” and this house seemed to live up to their claim. Having been built in 1830, it certainly did have many neat distinctions reflective of its age. I remember the courage it took for me to collect my laundry from the unfinished basement, as the low ceiling and stone siding made me feel like I was in a haunted cave. The walls on the other levels were even made with horsehair, and little brown fibers showed in various imperfections where bits of the plaster had crumbled. Hairy walls? I was in second grade. This was so cool!

But, even more special to me than the house itself was its proximity to the red house across the street: the home of a freckle-faced girl the same age I was. She quickly became my friend, and even became the person I leaned on when the carefree moments of childhood became replaced with hardship. What a true surprise it was to meander into this stranger’s living room as a 7-year-old, only to realize that decades later I still find myself in the company of those very same freckles.

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