When I post pictures of my completed house, you will likely be sorry you ever felt sorry for me. It is going to be ridiculous.
Stuck in a box somewhere, poorly wrapped in a sweater and jammed in with a sink strainer, a can of lentils, and a bag of useless keys, is the framed charcoal drawing of “our cottage” that has been in each one of our bedrooms since 1996. Steve picked it up for me roadside, during his summer in Homer, Alaska, and it is currently on its third straight season in a storage facility.
It represented our dream home at the time: tiny, simple, isolated, a few rooms on a little slice of earth. This fantasy house was not necessarily ours; we just lived there, happily, breathing (breathing was big) and growing tomatoes and herbs—well, big sprigs of mint, anyway. Back then, any herbs not used to flavor gum really only existed as nonsensical Simon & Garfunkel lyrics. And land ownership—that was for the likes of Billy Joel. But still, in the name of romance, we called this “our cottage”—though the rendering clearly depicted a shanty.
So our greatest desire was to live in a shanty.
Second: trailer in the woods near the northern coast of California.
Third: small sailboat.
In Wyoming, on one of our cross-country trips, we priced VW buses.
By comparison, the little Long Beach, NY house we did buy seemed cavernous. Though in truth, I could stand in the middle of the living room and hold a detailed discussion with Steve in any room in the house, in conversational tones—on the features of certain marjoram varieties, or whether we should go with the English thyme this year.
This was a good house. I knew it was ours when I first walked in. Steve agreed immediately upon hearing there was no lawn to mow. The first song we played in it was the White Stripes’ Hotel Yorba.
STOMPIN OUR FEET ON THE WOODEN FLOORS!
We danced our asses off that day—closing day, October 25, 2001. We stomped, hard, rejoicing at our aloneness. The house seemed to quiver with joy as we jumped and we did not ever think, houses are not supposed to shake.
Now we understand that shanties should shake, not full-fledged house houses. Slowly but surely, Seth reveals why it shook, and he builds us a house as solid as a castle. Nearly as big, too. It will have a ground floor/garage. Garage! Twelve steps to our main floor, and a loft too. A dormer with a second bathroom.
There will be light. Windows, high windows, a triangle window, frosted windows, skylights, tube lights. There will be storage. A pantry. Double closets. A bathroom closet. A front closet. A bedroom closet. A broom closet. An entire ground floor. A garage. Did I say that already?
All this is done. Bought. Being built. Seth has already purchased everything he needed to give us our dream house at unheard-of prices—before we found out we had to raise it for $68,000 more. Ah, bureaucracy. Makes me want to go back to the day we thought owning was for the people who profited from “You’re My Home,” not the ones who lived those lyrics. It makes me wonder if there are any VW buses left and how long they will be running for.
And then I think about August. I am parking my beach cruiser in my garage and going up my solid stairs to soak in a tub, with an ocean view and jets—that is not permanently scarred with the scratches and soot of prior owners.
And I am sold. Hopefully, whoever bought me can also pay for my house….