It seems a bit of a dream now, looking back. In real life, people don't live in castles, especially not people without any immediate claim to fortunes or noble ancestry. My memories of Rheineck are like this, foggy, misty, dim with the non-light of missing light fixtures (the previous owner took most of them before completing the transfer of title). During our afternoon walks, we spent as much time watching the progress of the sun across the northern winter sky as watching our footing on muddy trails. Returning home, our walk up the cobbled drive was steep and dark, the wiring to the driveway lights damaged when part of the road collapsed. The castle at the top of the hill was a fortress of black blotting out the sky, marked by a feeble light peering out from one window at the winter night. Calling this place "home" seemed strange in any language.
But it was home. This was the place we had been moving to when we left Santa Barbara four months earlier. We had managed to sneak in to see it one afternoon in the fall, before the papers were signed and it belonged to us, but otherwise it had only been a promise. Now we were here, and we learned all its secret corners, where the plaster was stained, where the stairways suddenly bottomed out into concrete. What had hung here? Where had this stairway led? Why was this room a bit trapezoidal, and why was the ceiling at two different heights? This place had stories to tell and the documents with those stories were in storage, the key held by the previous owner. We kept our questions and listened in where we could. And added our story, buying dishes and kitchen supplies, breaking the washing machine, installing a dishwasher, refinishing the main staircase.