The house I lived in that winter in Washington had been a rooming house with fourteen rooms, rented out mostly to addicts, when my landlord bought it in 1974. Friends told him it was a bad idea, but he bought it anyway, and his father came from Alabama to help rebuild the interior from the ground up. As soon as he could, he rented the basement apartment. The bedroom on the top floor he rented from time to time. The rest of the house was his. It was one of those row houses people walk by on fall nights and stop beside to look at the architectural details, the molding, the chandeliers, the bookcases, visible through the tall windows, while straining for glimpses of life within. Often when they did this my landlord was sitting there in the dark in the front room with his dog on his lap, looking down into the street. He would sit there thinking of the nights he used to look at houses like his, enjoying the reversal of roles, till he realized his upstairs tenant was coming up the front steps–when I would see him stand up, gather the dog to his chest, and bolt to his study–the nicest room in the house, with a bay window on the second floor, and a spacious desk, and all his books and papers.
–Andrew Holleran, Grief