- The Buddenbrooks-Feeling -
Borderland is the frontier between a family leaving a home and new family occupying the
old mansion. There is no special trace of violence between coming and leaving inhabitants.
It's more or less like a hermit crab leaving a house which will be token the ne!t season by
The borderland feeling is the peaceful phase in a home's transit form on family to another. It
is a transit period between of the decay of one family and the rise of a neighbor.
of July 2014 Borderland
"esterday in retrospect I had that sudden Buddenbrooks#$eeling walking the paternal villa in
which furniture contents had been decimated after so many sales. The empty house reminds me of
the successful rise of the young and the disintegrating fall of dying families.
%f course we entered the new house in euphoria and left the place somehow disillusioned. &one of
the children needed the voluminous paternal house.
'y job in the field of electrical engineering had catapulted me out of a dying industrial
environment. The parental house became too big for any of the children grandchildren and my
mother. It had to be given up for practical reasons.
The Buddenbrooks e!perience is the atmosphere of decay and disassembling to make room for new
generations. It may be awful for depressive minds but in fact to new generations it's promising. I'm
not sure whether the (nglo#)a!on downsi*ing belongs to the Buddenbrooks#e!perience and doubt
whether I am part of the e!perience but I still feel optimistic about my chances to survive the
The attic
Today I was due to disassemble two more huge wardrobes a sideboard and two laboratory tables. I
had built these tables in the upper attic just underneath the non#isolated roof. It had been hot in the
summer and cold in the wintertime. 'y brother and I never felt comfortable in the dark corner
which had to be climbed by a loose ladder. (s kids we opened a scuttle to ventilate the upper attic
but this proved to be unreliable and we had to close this gap again.
+owever what I found in disintegrating the wooden structure were four old panels and a beautiful
oak door#frame which had belonged to the original house we ,-./ had modified by removing some
sideboards to transform two chambers into one big living room. I placed these panels in the bright
sunlight at the voluminous attic. (part form the panels and frame it was empty now just as empty
when I came into this room almost forty years ago.
I felt as strange vibration entering my mind. I knew my brother and I had looked at this huge empty
room as youngsters. I remembered the architect#feeling of molding the place into the shape we
needed for e!periments. The memory however had needed the original emptiness to reproduce the
feeling. I reali*ed I had never had this particular reproduction before because the attic always had
been loaded with old stuff and superfluous furniture old bags full of dolls rags and feathers.
The emptied structure also reproduced the visions of the old '0rklin railroad we had installed the
generations of electronic laboratories and the e1uipment I had built. (nd ne!t to the door I
recogni*ed the space where my girlfriend had slept a few weeks after her father had thrown her out
of the house because she refused to hand out her salary to her parents. I completely had forgotten
this event which had not been recorded in any of my diaries of agendas. It had been a black hole in
my memory until I recogni*ed the episode from the emptied attic.
The maid's room
'ost of the rooms in the upper floors end the cellar were empty now. )ome of these were
vacuumed others rather dusty with leftover splinters screws nails some forgotten curtains.
&othing really eye#catching.
The house stood there naked in its essential form nude as it had been shaped from the very
beginning. )ome of the essentials were gorgeous others sobering.
I walked the empty rooms and saw the sunlight falling into the windows at those angles I remember
so well. 'y brother's room had been our guest room for many years. This time it struck me how
low the ceiling had been designed probably a self#made structure which had not been designed
according to architectural rules. Then I remembered this house had been designed to have maids for
servicing the owner. I knew there had been si! calling buttons in the other rooms which alarmed
the personnel in the kitchen area. I remembered the original alarming system which had been
designed with a relay bo! showing a number , up to . for the alarm. (nd the attic room with the
lower ceiling had been the room for the maid or maids.
'y parents had bought this home after a successful and profitable mission in the south#(mericans
from which they returned ,-./.
To our childish eyes it had been an old house those days already. I remembered the marble
switching board for electricity which might have been installed in the era of 2dison's laboratories.
)ome of the old washbasins however had survived and were still intact with their original mirrors
marble plates siphons and faucets. In retrospect I wondered the faucets hadn't been replaced by new
ones but then I noticed some of the rooms never had been used that much. 'y brother's room
originally the maid's room still had been e1uipped with this ancient washbasin and the original
faucet for cold water only. In the original state the upper floors and the attic area with the maid's
room also had not been e1uipped with integrated heating systems.
My parents' and my sister's bedrooms
I went downwards to the first floor which had been emptied after I had disassembled and removed
and two wardrobes and the sideboard. 'y parents' bedroom which had been my sister's bedroom
was empty now. There was a small balcony between two small windows. Behind the place where I
had removed the wardrobe I identified an arched passage to the small private boudoir which had
been used as my mother's room by closing the passage. The passage had been hidden behind the
furniture and only showed up after removing the last veils. In fact these two rooms had been
designed to be the main bedroom for the parents but originally they preferred the sunnier bedroom
at the south#side of the house and left this room to my sister.
The bathroom
Between both my parents' and my sister's bedrooms there was a bathroom which had been
renovated several times. (t the south#side the house had terraces for two bedrooms which as a
student I used to climb into the house when my father had locked the door and forgot I was still out
of the house at the time my parents went to sleep... ( glass#in#lead window however had been
conserved as an original style element.
My own bedroom
(t last I revisited my own room which had been used as my father's library for so many years after
I had left the house now abandoned.
(nd the light unblocked opened its way to the floor as it used to in my teens that day when I first
say my girlfriend combing her hair. It remember the moist fascinating violet#red color of her youth
and the smile of feeling desirable.
I remembered the thickness of the hair as full si*e mature thick fibers at least doubled compared to
normal hair. (nd I knew she e!pected an ovulation that day and 3 whispering # we should be
There always had been objects like furniture bo!es and leftovers ever since and the latent feeling of
sitting here and combing her hair patiently had been waiting for a chance to return to this room. I
knew it was a mirage and only I myself and maybe my wife were allowed to feel the image.
4ust arose from the floor and depending on the whirling clouds between the huge trees the sun did
build pyramids of colored shapes. In the background of the colored dust I recogni*ed my own
library between my youngster's belongings 3 a radio an amplifier and a record player. The dust's
colors rotated and the flickering images felt like noise television images. The atmosphere was
identical to the day we made the intense love of the greenhorns. (nd closing my eyes I once again
smelled the sweet taste of those kisses and the closed#up corpses at the teenager's narrow bed.
I looked through the window. (nd after the curtain had been removed the bare glass gave way to the
very park of huge trees where in my youth a pavilion had e!isted for a couple of years. It could not
be seen from any other window of the house and sometimes I guessed I was the only one to have
access to that secret tea#house. 5ust in case I would need a hide of course.
The pavilion was gone however and I knew it had to disappear to make place for a huge villa in the
middle of the park.
The garden
( do*en and originally even more trees had been tiny at the time we moved into this house. &ow
they had grown to da**ling altitudes of more than the roof of the 4 floor#building. I guess they had
reached ,6m by now. 'ostly pines they now produced lots of needles and small pine cones for the
s1uirrels. The ,7 tall trees produced lots of sour humus which had been piled up in the course of the
last decades. The garden however had no easy outside#access for gardening and now at the time of
transferring the house my brother and I reali*ed we had to remove the sour humus from the garden.
It had taken me two days to remove the heap to a container bow my brother had setup at the
The kitchen
I went into the kitchen where I remembered the location of the 8)#made huge ,,9:;.9+*
refrigerator and the 'aytag top#loading washer which had been designed for a mi!ture of cold and
hot water. Both had been adapted to 779:;+* and worked for a respectable number of years.
&e!t to the kitchen was an unheated pantry where originally two access openings had been made to
provide the house with coal. This must have been a dusty environment where the maids may have
been busy loading coals into the coal#scuttle. The coal storage itself had been built as two
compartments ne!t to the house.
'oving into this house my parents ,-./ switched from local coal fire#places to oil#fired central#
heating for which the oil had been stored in a large buried reservoir and later to a today's gas#fired
The Greenhouse
I went into the greenhouse which had been the preferred meeting place in a sunny environment.
This co*y greenhouse had been separated from the living room by the original sliding doors which
had been integrated into the brick walls. (n original triangular arc#shaped glass#in#lead window an
also bi#colored white < yellow glass structures in the sliding#doors had been conserved for many
years. 8nfortunately some ignorant technician had tried to isolate the double brick#wall structure
with some polystyrene foam which used to pour out of the sliding doors as soon as they were to be
moved. =e had kept these doors locked to prevent the outpouring but some visitors had moved the
doors so the foam particles were to be found all over the place.
The living room
The huge room provided us with a fire place which had not been used for years. The chimney
probably had been closed to prevent the heat losses from the central place. This place however had
not been abandoned yet and was stuffed with lots of bo!es full of sorted things 3 anything you
could imagine a family may store in an uninterrupted lifetime of 49 up to 66 years.
(ll sorts of things had been gathered mostly by my brother and sister. )ome e!1uisite clothing like
fur and ancient finely woven gloves initialed handkerchiefs... >ots of souvenirs from everywhere
around the planet.
( retrospect into an abandoned home is a stunning borderland#e!perience. 2specially the emptiness
of a house opens eyes towards already forgotten fields. In an overcrowded room the multiple items
distract the attention from the essentials. In fact essentials may be the sensitive and hidden details
we never risked to write down in notebooks for the fear of being discovered.
(nd if any psychiatrist would want me to analy*e the lost memories I stored in the backyard of my
brain I would suggest him to bring me back to the places where I had been living and strip the
places to their original virginal state. The removed place probably removes some of the obscuring
veils and opens the view to some healed or unhealed wounds of hidden soreness.
The final migration often may be the last chance to visit the denuded house and refresh the memory.
I supposed this was to be the last visit in my parental house and I left the original brass key on the
table. I remember my father gave me the very first day I entered the house and the key must have
been a master key belonging to the original lock # probably ?9 years old by now. I knew the new
owners respected traditional items and originals in their new property. (nd definitely they deserve
to receive one of the originals belonging to the ?9 year old building.