A popular quote from Henry Thoreau reads: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
Perspective changes everything, really. If you would have told me a few years ago that I would be living blocks from downtown Xenia, I would have said you were crazy. I used to look at the old buildings and didn’t see much value in this historical town.
Fast forward to the year we moved near these old buildings. It was spring and the kids wanted to go on a bike ride. I’ll never forget the first time they rode their bikes past the old Eavey building, where West Third Street meets Detroit. You would have thought they were transferred to another era as they tried their best to imagine what the area was like when that building was alive with busy workers. To them, it wasn’t just an old building; it held memories that told stories of real moments in time where people once lived and worked.
The whole ride home was filled with rapid-fire questions: What year was it built? What was its purpose? Do you think it will fall down? One of them even asked if we could buy it and fix it up.
As soon as we arrived home, we searched out all of the answers and had quite the history lesson about the Eavey family and their work in Xenia. And I made it clear that we would most definitely not be the ones to fix it up!
They listened intently to the story of Henry Eavey and his lucrative grocery business. It was fascinating for them to think that they rode their bikes where a train once delivered products from all over the country. We learned that those bricks and beams had been important to the little town we now call home.
All at once, our new hometown became a place to explore, and it happened because my perspective changed. Interestingly, a genuine appreciation for the Eavey building came naturally for my kids. Their excitement and imagination was contagious. As they often do, they taught me a lesson that day: Life is about more than just looking at the things in front of me. I can also choose to see beauty and excitement in the seemingly ordinary.
We pass the Eavey building every day on our way to school. Sometimes, one of the kids will talk about the train that delivered the food, or wonder if the building is haunted. This is no doubt one of the reasons I enjoy living in Xenia. Each old building has a story to tell, and many of the present owners are writing new stories. We are enjoying reading both.
Heather Bright lives in Xenia, Ohio with her husband and children. They are always looking for new places to explore. Send your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.