Susanna Salk


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Trustpassing
Friday, July 28th, 2017

The definition of tresspassing is to enter the owner’s land or property without permission. According to this definition I have a committed this crime less than jaywalking but more than driving in the carpool lane solo. And to be clear I never go into homes: just driveways, back lots, gardens and maybe a deserted barn.
There’s the thrill of crossing into someone else’s life and for a brief moment trying it on like a gorgeous coat you can’t afford or don’t really need. You admire, you fantasize and then you put it back on the hanger and resume your real life.
It happened with particular excitement and intrigued the other day when I passed a house on the way to a party on an unknown road in a neighboring town. The structure had all the grandeur and run down romance of Grey Gardens: its exterior lacked ornamentation and paint yet the door remained a defiant red. Majestic old tree limbs arched over the long, ungroomed driveway. I was late to the party so I didn’t enter but during it I could think of nothing else. On the way home in pitch darkness I pulled in again with the certainty of a GPS destination. On the third floor, a small window was now illuminated, fuzzy with a slight glow. My imagination and Instastory went wild with possibilities. But more than anything I was too frightened to approach further. For days after strangers from all over the world messaged me to please return. So today I did. As I pulled up this time in daylight I could see that the house was not abandoned: inside the entry was a clutter of coats and children shoes, I could catch a glimpse of a music stand in the kitchen; toys and simple furnishings were scattered throughout. Dish soap was on the window sill. Someone was perhaps renting this house: not able to afford its renovation but driven to its character as I was. I left indebted to the house’s generosity to trust just when it was at its most vulnerable: without inhabitants. A house, after all, never judges your imagination. I think of my best friend Holly who on a high school trip to Greece was having the time of her life drinking and waiting for a ferry in what she thought was a terminal but turned out to be somebody’s little shack of a home. Without a common language they had made her feel completely welcome. When I typed the opening line of this story into my iPhone, auto correct changed it to “trust passing.” Maybe for once, auto correct is correct.