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The House on Piety

We’re building in the Upper-Ninth Ward, and only a few blocks away from our site rests a street called Piety. I walked down that street today. I’ve thought so much about this street, and a particular house on it. We built a house here last year, the Berklee crew and I. During grueling hours of construction, we were blocking the interior walls and started the beginnings of the roof. Last June, the house looked like this.

house-1

A year has passed, and we’re walking down Piety once again. I begin to recognize houses in their varying stages of demolition or reconstruction. It’s hard to know for sure where I am. Will I recognize the place? What will I find? My heart is beating heavily with anticipation.

And then I see it. And cry. Hot tears begin to streak heavily down my face, camouflaging themselves amidst the dirt and sweat. I’m certainly not a crier, and I never expected to be so moved by this moment, but the house is beautiful I can’t help but not.

house-2

I walk up the front steps, steps I’ve sat on many times in the past. But instead of tool belts and Berklee waterbottles, there are shoes. Little shoes. The child who lives here must have kicked them off before coming into her house.

I rang the doorbell. There was no answer at first, so I turned to leave. And then a woman answered. I smiled at her, speechless, and being so saturated with emotion, I muttered the only thing that came to mind. “I helped build your house.”

The woman immediately open the door widely saying, “Why don’t you come in?”

I did. And I told her we were from Berklee College of Music in Boston. There was so much I wanted to tell her, about how much fun we had putting the roof together, and how much love went into this house, but I said nothing. Instead, I peered around the livingroom. Even though Tiara only moved in last month, after waiting all this time, it felt like home inside.

house-3

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6 Comments

  1. Maegan Wright

    I got teary just thinking of what you felt like…I think of Miss Ruby’s house and wonder what it looks like now. What color she picked for the exterior, what room she picked for herself. This is the payback, seeing what was a shell, exposed wood and love, come to life and have breathe. Enjoy!

  2. Patricia Peknik

    Kathryn, Juliana and Linda, we are all so proud of you and this year’s crew! I went to see Henri Smith, New Orleans jazz and blues vocalist give a master class in Herman’s ensemble today, and as the amazing Mr. Smith was singing about Mardi Gras and the Zulu King, I kept picturing those brightly-colored houses blaring their message of hope in the blazing sun! And Linda, I pictured you blocking…and blocking! But I hope you’re NOT!

  3. Roya

    Kathryn,

    Thanks so much for sharing. I felt the same way last year when I visited the finished home; it is overwhelming. I’m so glad you were able to see the owner.

  4. Gabe

    Thank you thank you thank you Kat for visiting Piety, writing what you did, and most of all for sending the pic. I was also at Herman’s class yesterday and closed my eyes and imagined I was there with you all. I’m listening to WWOZ online all this week and thinking of all of you, and all the other teams down there helping out.

  5. Jenna

    This is beautiful. I’m so glad you’re there.

  6. … the shoes…

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