The house I didn’t want


In late 2015, at the beginning of my journey into recovery, I decided I wanted to move. Fresh starts and all. We live in a house that is a main thoroughfare and heavily trafficked and without sidewalks. Our son was eight and in need of neighborhood friends and how is that possible without a neighborhood? We quickly found one that seemed perfect. A neighborhood near one of Liam’s school friends, it was bigger with an open plan, a fireplace!, a large master bedroom/bath and walk-in closet, less yard to care for.  I was already imagining us taking over the space, making it home. We didn’t get the house and I began a period of mourning.

But looking at the house kicked in a new quest for my husband. He turned our disappointment into a new idea and started visiting retirement property while visiting his mom in Florida a couple months later. It was a furtive move on his part and he didn’t share this idea until he was home and booking flights for us to visit in late February. Hold up. Retirement?! Florida?! Never! I tried to talk him down but the idea had already taken root. Strong root.

On the day before we were to go, the idea warming in me as the days passed, my mom died. It was as though a sign had been sent and there would be no dreams of Florida retirement anytime soon. We grieved mom, understood she was in a better place, having lived the last several years in extreme discomfort from POCD and other ailments. Life returned to a semi-normalness that comes after losing a loved one. A couple months later we took our annual spring break to visit my mother-in-law and one day we all jumped in the car for a road trip, a trip to visit retirement houses. What?! I thought we had put that on the back burner, at least for now.

My displeasure dissipated as we travelled north and horse farms began to pepper the landscape. I love horses! We met up with a nice real estate lady and followed her through several properties she had set up for the day’s viewing and I found something to dislike about all of them. As she got to know us through what we liked and didn’t, she said she had one more property to show us that wasn’t on the list. In fact, it wasn’t yet on the market as the owner was still considering her options. She made a quick call, got permission to show and led us to another end of the city. What had been lacking in the other developments was mature trees and lush surroundings making them seem like wide open vistas with little privacy.

This new property was very different. Tall trees separated the long two lane road that led to various neighborhoods with quaint names: hidden oaks, the vistas, the preserve. My hardened attitude about claiming some retirement space many years before I was ready to retire was starting to soften. But the house was going to be a mess, right? With 70’s decor, wall to wall carpet, a kitchen that hadn’t been updated in years (this had been much of what we’d already seen). The house was at the end of a small, private neighborhood oval. The only traffic would be the people who lived in the neighborhood, far from the main thoroughfare. I softened a little more. When we stopped in front of a house with a beautiful side garden, exotic agave plants larger than all of us, a perfect looking palm on the front lawn, I was almost sold before looking inside. A sycamore towered over the property like a protective umbrella and butterflies coasted through the garden setting the scene for future days of reading in the shade. I was picturing it.

Inside was not too bad and I liked the brightness of the bedrooms and kitchen but the living room was less bright due to the covered porch in the back. A covered porch! How I have longed to sit under one as rain pounded it’s roof while I sit protected, watching it wet the landscape. I have always wanted a covered porch! It was easy to talk me into wanting this small beauty of a domicile. Where do I sign?

But as I said, it wasn’t actually for sale. We returned to my mother-in-law’s but the small bungalow, the pretty gardens, the covered porch stayed with me and I could see us living there into old age. The realtor offered to show us more properties in the same community and with optimism we followed her to five more houses a few days later. Nothing compared to the bungalow, the gardens, the porch. We went home and kept in touch with the realtor. Let us know if it goes on the market.

Reader, as you probably know, we got the house. The gardens. The porch. This is the oasis where I’m spending these weeks of quarantine. It was meant to be.


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