I moved out of my parents’ house in 1992. My parents sold their house and moved to a new one in 1993. In April of 2008, the people living in my childhood home were the third owners of that house since my parents sold it. And they were putting it up for sale.
There was an Open House scheduled. Now, I had no real desire to walk through and look at the house, because it’s not mine anymore and there would be no point. After 17 years, many things would be different and it just wouldn’t be the house that I remember…so why do it? You can’t go home again.
But…..my mom wanted to go have a look so I said that I would go with her. The changes that were made were quite glaring. But that was to be expected. My mom, however, seemed distraught by the changes. It had hard wood floors instead of carpeting, our living room was now the dining room and vice versa, and the bathrooms and the kitchen had been TOTALLY redone. My mom was particularly concerned with the whole living room / dining room thing, and kept lamenting about it long after we left.
But I was surprised at some of the things that were exactly the same as I remember. For instance, the carpet on the stairs going from the 1st to 2nd floor was the same carpet (and time had certainly taken its toll), the wallpaper inside the closet of the room that was mine was the same, as was the glass covering of the light fixture in the upstairs bathroom.
But it’s what I saw in the basement that was really unexpected and surprising to me. Above the little storage area underneath the basement steps, hung on a hook, was my old, plastic, personalized light switch cover plate. It has a drawing of a boy on the left hand side, and above the little rectangle where the switch would be is my name. Of course, that was not where I had last seen the cover plate. When I moved out, it was still performing its duty for which it had been designed in my old bedroom. My mom said that they never took it off the wall when they moved out.
So to sum up…through 3 different owners and over the course of 15 years, that plastic wall switch cover plate of mine had remained in that house. I don’t know if it had been in different places in the house over the years, or if the people who bought it from my parents hung it there above the storage area. But it was just stunning to me that after all that time it was even still there and in a quite accessible place.
About a week later, I e-mailed the realtor who was selling the house. I told him who I was, why I had gone through the house, what I had found, and asked about the possibility of reclaiming that personalized, plastic light switch cover. The realtor e-mailed me back and told me that he had forwarded my e-mail to the owners of the house and he would let me know. Two weeks went by, and I didn’t hear anything.
So I took matters into my own hands and wrote a letter to the owners of the house. I didn’t know their names, so I addressed the envelope to Owners. I, again, explained who I was, why I had gone through the house, what I had found, and asked about the possibility of reclaiming that personalized, plastic light switch cover.
A week and a half later, I received a bubble-envelope in the mail. Inside it was the light switch cover. I immediately went to my bedroom, removed the current light switch cover plate and put my old one on. Unfortunately, it was warped and bowed and did not fit flush against the wall (except for where it was screwed in). For the past year, I’ve had it in my garage lying underneath a rather heavy landscaping stone in an attempt to flatten it out again. It hasn’t happened yet.