Monday, November 4, 2013

my house of dreams

Ain't no home like a home in the country, unless it's 707 Main Street, and that's how I've always felt.  Daydream with me a little? Because that's what I've done for about 25 years now and somehow, surprisingly, I've found out that daydreams can be voracious and vicious and a little bit bitter.

There's this house I fell in love with when I was about Freckles' age, and my whole-entire-life I've really just believed two things about it:

1) This house and me, we were really kinda meant for each other and belonged to each other on a heart level
2) If you own a house like this, you never give it up, so this results in a dream that's just a daydream out of necessity because WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND would sell that house to me? A House O' Dreams doesn't really happen unless you're Anne Shirley. And I may be the Anne-Shirleyest of anyone I know, but sometimes even a house of dreams looks a lot like clouds in my coffee - everything beautiful and nothing of substance.

Our town is good at having a lot of random parades down Main Street and we always sit across the street from this house and so several times a year I pretend to be interested in a parade when really I'm just gazing across the street and cultivating memories for the future. I've pitched some significant daydreams to myself over the years, to be sure - and though there's a lot to be said for the difference between 'home' and a 'house,' and these dreams can and do manifest happily wherever I am, I just always hoped it would be here, at 707 Main Street.

 This house would have rooms that my children would grow up in and fill with laughter and happy stampedes and books and late night whispers under blanket-tents pitched with old quilts and dining room chairs.

 It would have a drafty attic to poke around in bravely, and a snug basement to hunker down in during storms, and a sun room where our dog would nap, curled up next to a potted lime tree.

There would be an old wooden staircase with an old wooden handrail that's guided countless hands gripping or brushing over it through the years.

And the doorframes! Some doorframes would be arched. Some doorframes would have French doors. And one good doorframe, the sturdiest and most favorite one in the house, would be the place to exclaim "My! How you've grown!" with a pencil mark to note those significant centimeters and 6-inch summers.

Our house would have a welcoming kitchen where you spill long stories, a comfortable fireplace where you sit and string up long strands of popcorn and cranberries for the Christmas tree, and a hallway leading like a long path to rooms of warmth and comfort and peace - and all of those long things - stories, popcorn strings, and hallways- are welcomed because there's no sense in staying just a short while.

This house would smell sometimes like an old book, sometimes like an apple pie, and always like a memory that makes you feel whole and healed and wanted just as you are.

Outside there's a wide front yard good for football on Thanksgiving day and jumping in leaf piles raked up from the maple trees that drop fragments of gold and crimson blush. The deep stone porch has steps to park a pumpkin or two or fourteen, or sit with a cup of hot mulled cider clasped between your hands, steam curling up, on a foggy November morning.

 And speaking of across the street, of course, there's no other chunk of heaven but the library itself. Lumberjack recently asked me if my house of dreams is made even more ideal by the fact the library is just across the street, and while this may be the case, I realized that the opposite is also every bit as true: the library itself is made more wonderful by knowing my house is just across the street. It's only the very best things that have an equally positive effect on each other in places improvement could not even be thought possible.

Because I'm some kind of creepy, I don't really have a problem knocking on a random stranger's door and asking if I can come inside to see their house out of sheer curiosity. I've done that before and sometimes I'm welcomed and sometimes I'm stared at and I guess my theory is that the worst they can do is say no. (Well. I guess the worst they could do is say yes, and then murder me once I'm inside. But that hasn't happened yet, so I keep on asking whenever I feel like it.)

When I had a birthday two years ago, I told Lumberjack what I really wanted was to celebrate twenty-eight by seeing the inside of 707 Main Street. So I talked to the owners and they were really nice and were very willing to let me come look around but they were out of town and then we were out of town and it all just sorta fell through.

Two weeks ago, a For Sale sign popped up in the yard, and I felt an ache in my chest because we are not in the position to buy that house, and life happens and it doesn't matter that my girls are just the right ages for moving into my house of dreams, this house of wonder and hopes. I realized just how much time I'd given freely to daydreaming about this since I was five years old and how I had no idea, until I saw that For Sale sign, how tightly I'd wed my emotions to the idea of living there. I told Lumberjack I hoped it would be ten times our price range instead of just a little bit more because I would rather miss out by a whole lot than a tortuous just-barely-a-little. It ached because I knew, deep down, there was
 I stopped counting how many times I cried that day after my fourth bout of tears and I hated myself a little for being so broken up over something so very, very temporal and insignificant when I have rarely - or maybe never, truth be told - cried over someone not having a house at all. I called and asked the owner about coming to see the house anyway. I knew it would probably be my only chance, ever, to hold reality up to imagination and see how they compared. And the owner, he recognized me as that girl from two years ago, and yes, of course, I could finally come see the house. And, mercifully, the house was not just a little out of our price range, but exactly ten times.

We go on Wednesday to walk in and explore. I am still a little put out with myself for feeling just so sad and hope I don't cry the whole time, because it's JUST A HOUSE and all of my memories of living there are only imagined, anyway. One of these days I plan on not getting worked up over silly stuff, but I will give myself through Wednesday to cry this one out. After all, the Christmas parade is in a month, and I can stand there and still be vaguely interested in it while glancing across the street from time to wistful time. Also, I'm going to advise Freckles to start saving for a house now, because they are very expensive.

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