Sometime around 1987 we decided it was time to upsize. Our kids were out growing that three-bedroom tract home at the end of a cul-de-sac, so I started that long and tedious venture of house hunting. At some point I had made a list of all the places our current house was falling short and my next house would have to meet my demanding criteria for what a dream-house should look like. It was a daunting task. I quickly realized what was big and lovely was not going to fit into our budget. But then one day a friend who was in real estate rang me and said she had found the perfect home for us and due to some unfortunate financial events, the price might be just right. She knew a little something about my list: country setting, preferably two stories, spacious with at least five bedrooms…
My friend described the house as a brick two-story at the end of a country lane. Oh, the visions that danced through my head. I saw a colonial style red brick rambling country home. Not exactly what I originally wanted but within minutes I saw myself serving mint juleps on the veranda. I quickly got the directions and set out to find my dream-house. I drove up and down that country lane trying to find the house. I made several passes by this flat fronted dismal brown cinder-block, an ugly albatross of a house and I could not understand why I couldn’t find the house that was for sale. You know that sound in cartoons when someone scrapes a needle across a vinyl record and it makes that horrible screech? That is the sound that went through my head the moment I realized my red brick colonial was, in fact, the cinder blocked albatross.
The inside was as interesting as the curb appeal outside. Upstairs sported a bathroom and four good sized bedrooms. A perfect lay-out for our tribe and a different carpet in every room. Pink shag, yellow shag, nut brown shag and a trendy indoor/outdoor carpet in a dazzling denim pocket print. But the best was yet to come. In the large living/dining room from floor to ceiling, the walls were covered with dark brown cork squares. You say dark, I called it cozy. Those cork squares had been adhered to the underlying cinderblock walls with an all- purpose epoxy cement that was meant to last well beyond the end of time. For two and a half years the kids and I picked and scraped. There were cork crumbs everywhere all the time. But hey this house had wide-ish open spaces and a LAUNDRY CHUTE!!!
This was the last house I would ever in a million years have chosen of my own free will. But after living in it for eleven years I came to understand that it exactly met our needs in that season of our lives. It fit our budget, it was literally a concrete fortress that stood up to a swarm of kids who had the reputation for being rough on equipment. What do you do when life gives you lemons? You buy a lot of thumbtacks and hang your children’s artwork all over the place.
When you can’t be with the one you love, when it comes to houses, we should always just love the one we’re with.