Friday, February 17, 2012
This is the house I consider my childhood home, where I lived from 8 to 16. (That's still my longevity record, followed by 7 years in our current house). I took this picture last summer, on the day we made the offer on our new one. It was the week I spent in my hometown with the kids, and I went to give LP a tour of my "young years". I was nervous and excited, and I told myself I would only write this post when our current house sold and we would be focused on the move. I didn't expect it to be so long.
I loved that house so much. In my memory, it was unbelievably great, and an absolutely perfect place/neighborhood to grow up in. My parents entertained a lot, so it really had a feeling of being at the center of everything. We walked to school, the hospital where my dad worked (still works) was five minutes away, all of our friends were within a few minutes' distance. Our backyard was immense, with a downhill slope that led directly to a forest. My dad originally planted that garden and those trees, which used to be tiny. The blue spruce was "mine". It used to be fairly equally tall as I was, year after year.
Winters were long and harsh, but we skied and sled in our own yard, played outside a lot, and they never seemed like the burden they have become. Summers were warm and fantastic. I still get teary thinking about how endless they seemed back then, sun drenched, full of days in the swimming pool followed by dinners outside and long evenings lingering by the fire. All the smells even come back to me. We had so much room, it was safe, it was wonderful. When my parents divorced and put the house up for sale, I was devastated. I told myself that maybe one day, I could get the house back.
Time has passed. I've moved on. I left my hometown close to twenty years ago. I don't think I'll ever move back there, much less buy this house -the neighborhood is different now, aged, not so family-friendly anymore. But...
There was something that clicked to me immediately, when we first visited our soon-to-be-home. It had a very similar feel... Our new house is from the '80s, while my childhood home was built in the '70s, but it's still very much the same architectural paradigm. The way the dining room/living room space was/is laid out exactly the same: the dining room above, accessible by climbing a few steps, the two rooms semi-open onto each other -blocked only by a two-faced fireplace and the same railing on both sides, with a shared sloped high ceiling. The glass room that opens up to the backyard. The view from the back (not a forest in our new house, rather a park-like golf course -still, very alike). The way our bedroom connects to the master bathroom. The garage, which is at the exact same place. And in the basement, the very similar large storage space, complete with the same built-ins like cedar closets and a wine cellar...
We bought the house from a doctor, who had it built over twenty-five years ago, and consequently, has been the sole owner. He told us how it was only the second one erected on the street, how he walked the construction site with muddy boots and carefully chose the lot with the best view. He raised two boys there, who are now teenagers. He got divorced 5 years ago, and reluctantly put the house up for sale because his new girlfriend has two teens of her own, and the house plainly wasn't large enough for everyone. It was difficult for him, I could tell he was sad to let go of this home "he never expected having to leave", but also happy that we loved it so and planned to raise our own little family there. It's not like they were trading down and need you to feel sorry for them, mind you: they had a house built (probably more like a mansion), in our same town, but in what we call the "millionaires' corner" on the newer side. Still, he told us that it wasn't on the golf anymore, and that leaving that view would be "very hard".
I asked him how the boys were taking all of this. Very badly, he said. They are devastated.
I told him that I understood, I very much understood. But that maybe he could tell them never to forget that one day, years and years from now, perhaps they could sort of get their house back.