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Harding House

This is writing in situ, with my thumbs.  We’ll see how far I get.

I’m sitting alone at a dining table in a very small house on Harding Street in Raleigh, with an excellent chicken salad sandwich.

I’ve known this house longer than the owners.  A friend of mine bought it first, maxed it out.  He’s an architect, he had ambitions that involved impressing a girl, and he did everything he could to make this house everything it could be.  It has a new second floor and the tightest spiral stair conceivable.  There are a lot of generous strokes in this house, and it’s fun for me now to experience it with its new owners.

And I would say this experience is unique and rare, except that I’ve found myself in this chair, in this experience, with memories, a lot of times.  More than my share.

From this chair, I can see an elbow of another person, a nose of another person, seen through a cased opening into the living room.  The living room is full.  It’s so full that I don’t fit.  My blackberry definitely wouldn’t make it.

Our whole church band is in the living room rehearsing.  Don’t tell the fire marshall.  From this seat, I hear voices on a traditional spiritual, violins, guitars, some percussion that could be a washboard or beans in can.  And faintly I can hear Curious George on the DVD for the kids upstairs.

There are a lot of people in this house. Families, friends. That’s cool, and a good moment for housing.

There is a lot of sound in this house too.  I’m not sure if this is a test case, but it’s a good study in materials and acoustics.  It’s too loud because there are too many players in a small space, but it’s not offensive.  The sound is warm, moving along the wood floors and the into the furniture, escaping through the wall and ceiling openings casually.  I expect you can hear it outside.

In large spaces, acoustics are a science.  You can get it really wrong.  Hard floors echo, corners distort, curves recreate sound in their own image, and excessive upholstery absorbs sonic energy.

In a home, sound is right.  The people, the finishes, the furniture, this is the music we want.  We can hear it and understand the words.  We can sing along if we want.  In churches, in theaters, in bars, this is what we hope to recreate.  Even if your dad says, “Turn it down up there!” it sounds great.  And the music here is too loud, I’ll have to get out because my head is starting to hurt, but it sounds amazing.

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