Kris Frieswick wrote a wonderful piece in the December 10, 2020 issue of The Wall Street Journal about falling in love with a (an? I never could get that right) historic house and not seeing the trap of the work it requires. I wrote her a thank you note for making me laugh at myself….which is the very best kind of laughter….adding that she was/is absolutely right about such houses. I described my experience to her which is rewired, revamped, rehabbed…..but I digress and will get to all of those myriad experiences, when I explain the house’s grip on me….here…..
The trap that I fell into was a three story beauty, on the water, in Savannah, Georgia (a coastal and historic city, where there are many such ensnares of beauty if you -“just looking”- step into the inner sanctum).
In all coastal cities, the wind, sun, salt air, and all other environmental elements conspire, by the mini second, against sanity to get you to love the beauty of each place. So for the purposes of Ms. Frieswick’s warnings about historic homes, houses on coastal waters are pretty much the same hither come flirtatious rabbit hole as their inland cousins.
As for falling in love with a (an? Here we go again, like spending money on the house) historic home on the water, a buyer of that kind of beauty would have to be certifiably insane. For those of us who chose inland or water beauties, we can take comfort in thinking that we’re in a higher class of buyers who are only insane, but not certifiably so. The caring souls who try -or in my case tried- to warn, know better.
The sweet unraveling, of this onion I’m about to peel -which sometimes almost brought tears to my eyes (because it wasn’t a Vidaia onion…..it only looked like one) – is twofold:
I had the experience (without which, I’d have been convinced, to my dying day, would have been a star studded one that I had been denied)
now, we can all (except the new buyer) laugh about the warnings and the experience.
Due to my husband’s declining health, the house had to be wrestled from my grasp -out from under me, but the fight wasn’t fair because I’m short and the buyer was taller. But, taller or not, he was another insane person. Otherwise, I would still be the labeled one).
But back to the day I saw it….
I know…sigh….everyone tried to warn me….but I put my hands over my ears and screamed back at them,
“STOP!! NOOOO!! YOU’RE JUST FEAR MONGERING!!”.
But, alas and slack, the truth was that I couldn’t hear what they were saying because my love was so strong, that it struck me deaf and stooopid….you see, I was so wracked with insanity about the house, I couldn’t even spell stupid, then.
All I knew then was that, I JUST LOVED the house and the view from the windows and decks…. that, yes…all had to be replaced, but don’t rub it in; because both the house and the view (not necessarily the windows and decks…but those were charming too, I argued with myself; because only by arguing with myself could I win the battles, eventually only to lose the war) were soooo absolutely amazing!! I couldn’t spell the word so then either, because every inch of my brain had been taken over by the dazzling beauty before me.
Not to mention….but why not mention it…..while we’re on the subject of abducted brains…..the house was going to be a “great buy” too (the real estate agent said so) with just a little money put into its “great bones”. I agreed….as I could feel her version of truth in my bones as well. So, right then and there, as soon as she said that, the house’s bones and my bones merged into one boney body – which my husband said was a boner because I was about to be screwed- and yet I rushed to buy it, lest some other insane person get it first.
Oh I can’t stand it, when hubby is right about getting screwed!! It means I have to give ground and it’s always more fun to stand mine.
Sigh!! Back to the dream…it was not to be.
Although my love for the house was unrequited (I know, I know…so sad), I kept at it, assured that it would love me back some day, that it would thank me for saving it from rot and ruin. And, although it couldn’t speak (it could only creak), I just knew it in my bones (even as I was getting….well, let’s not go there), the house would let me know, in its own sweet way, that it would no longer need the rest of my retirement fund, because, FINALLY, it would no longer be insatiably hungry and thirsty, but instead completely satiated and happy as a clam (I didn’t think at the time that clams aren’t ever happy because we eventually eat them).
Yes, I imagined, that the house, once full as a tick, would invite me to sit on it’s expensively redone, deck, in a LuxeDecor or Frontgate or Neiman Marcus, or Hammacher Schlemmer (only the best for the house) Adirondack chair, with my feet propped up on the attached ottoman, positioned towards the water with the soft sun in our hair (truth to tell only I have hair and the house didn’t, but the experience of the house was hairy). And, then, together, the house and I would enjoy a glass of wine, while we sat on the expensively redone deck, and laugh at the fools who tried to pry us apart.
But…such was not to be. Again, sad to say, this was to be a love for the ages, but not for me and the house. Because, no matter, how hard I tried and, even if you, dear reader, can’t appreciate the depths of my finally pretty much hollowed out bank account, the good Lord knows I tried….but I could never satisfy the house’s hunger or it’s thirst.
Yet…and yet again….and again…but enough about how often I replaced whatever the house needed….I wouldn’t have traded the experience of the beauty, of the house and the views, for the moon…
….scratch that…maybe for the moon…
but, then, again…the moon probably needs lots of work too.