Those who’ve known me over the years would often hear me say things like, “Life’s too short,” “Seize the moment,” and “You got one life. Make the best of it.”
But when it came to my own hangups, I was much less confident.
For example, I would occasionally drive past the house I grew up in on Long Island, or ask my husband, cousins, or friends to. We would sometimes park out front, and I’d agonize over whether to walk up and ring the doorbell or not.
I always chickened out.
I grew up on a quiet cul de sac in a red cape cod with a three-quarter dormer and no front door (the main entrance was on the side). The house was lovingly referred to by friends as “Palmieri Barn.” (note: Palmieri is my maiden name. And the house looked like a barn.)
When my parents sold it almost fifteen years ago (after 34 years), I went through a period of melancholy that was almost as intense as if someone close to me had died.
Many memories from my childhood took place there, and I’d have frequent dreams and nostalgia about it. I’d wonder what the new residents were like and whether the inside still looked the same.
On our way to a cousin’s house for a Fourth of July barbecue on Wednesday, I finally got to find out.
As a recent cancer survivor, I now intently practice what I’d been preaching to others.
Life is short. Take more chances.
I looked up the walk from the passenger seat of our car, took a deep breath, and got myself together.
I noticed a spider web delicately woven between the side mirror of an SUV parked in the driveway and one of the hedges close to it (totally understandable, it being the suburbs and all). I made a mental note not to walk up—or out—that way.
I exited the car and headed to the door. The measure of time between ringing the doorbell and someone opening the door felt like an eternity. My heart beating hard and fast.
“Can I help you?”
“Hi. My name is Michele. I grew up in this home.”
“Yes, that’s me.”
“Ohhhhhh! Please come in!”
The kindness extended to me was outstanding. I was invited into the same place where I tended to my first pet, had my first sleepover, and suffered my first heartbreak—and this place now belonged to someone else.
It was surreal.
I chatted with the gracious owner for some time and expressed my gratitude for her warmth and willingness to welcome me into what was now her home.
We exchanged emails and phone numbers. We would have tea next time, a planned visit.
Overwhelmed with emotion, I’d completely forgotten about the spider web as I was leaving.
I let out a scream (the kind of sound you make when you have an irrational fear of spiders), and she and I shared a moment of vigorous laughter as I writhed and wiggled all the way to the street.
As my husband and I drove off, I waved to her—and to the house—and thought to myself, how fortunate am I to have had another chance to ring that bell.