We met so long ago. You do remember our first meeting? Or, is it possible that, with all the families you’ve housed in your more than 200 years, we’ve blurred together…like stains on the rugs or dents on the floor? No matter, I’ll remind you. We met way back, before the internet, before cell phones, before even (can you imagine?) Cable TV.
I remember my first glimpse of you: tall, majestic, stoic on your hill above the Hudson River. Your grass skirt was too long. It needed a mowing. But that just showed your wild side, that you were in touch with nature and with the seasons.
Sure, I’d read about you before seeing you – a lovely, descriptive (shall we even say flowery) passage about the little stream behind you, the wooden bridge we’d cross over to get to you, the old barn with its two-story hayloft, the Hudson River sunrises and summer breezes…that sort of stuff. And I’d seen pictures. Photos – black-and-whites copied – xeroxed, we’d say…In those days, xeroxed was a verb, the branding wasn’t so, well, conscious … or, shall I say, jealously guarded. Anyway, those photos were copied and paper-clipped to the type-written description of you, then stuffed into an envelope along with photos and descriptions of other houses. YOU were special, though. You came with your own booklet…a booklet with descriptors that made me lust after you. I couldn’t wait to see you and, like a suitor, enter you.
So, about our introduction…. You don’t know this, I’m sure – you actually have no way of knowing this, so please don’t feel bad when I tell you. Really, it’s not your fault … but the approach – off the highway, down a two-lane country road that’s littered with industrial debris, then under a highway bridge and over a railroad bridge – is, to be truthful, not particularly good foreplay. It was (and still is), actually, a turn-off…in all senses of the word. Then comes a dirt road with several one-story, post-WWII GI “starter” homes.
Oh, House, I have to tell you, when we reached that point, I totally lost interest. You were false advertising. A gimmick. A tease.
Then we rumbled over the little wooden bridge…and entered your realm. You, with your skirt too long, beckoned. I found your unkempt-look seductive.
Holding my youngest child, I entered your premises. You were grand. Welcoming. Generous. Warm. You wanted me. I knew it. I could feel it. And I wanted you so much… like I’d never wanted anything before.
What a miracle! I danced. I could afford you! I was Tony in West Side Story and you were my Maria.. I was Jewish, raised in a Boston suburb of look-alike homes. And you? You are essence of America, white with big pillars, a Cambridge-intellectual house, a Nantucket-ship-captain house, an America I’d dreamed of…never thought possible. Never dreamed it would want me. Or be available …
Sure, there were stumbling blocks. Some neighbors – well, really, only one but it was a big one – that pesky, neighboring Yacht Club – put up a fight. In the end, we won, you and I. I moved in, raised my family. Stayed in love with you (not that I didn’t want to leave you from time to time).
And, over time, most of the neighbors got to like me. Except the Yacht Club.
More than 40 years have passed. I’m now slightly over-stuffed. You are, too. I sag a bit. You, too. Parts of me don’t work so well. Your parts, also, need care. I’m getting old … and you, House, need someone younger, stronger for your care.
I found a sunny apartment in the City – that hub of activity, culture, walkability. I met realtors, received papers, prepared to sell you to someone who, I hoped, would love you as I once did.
Then came… The Pandemic.
I’m back, now. Not for lust, this time, but to cuddle, to shelter. And, House, I’m cleaning you, trimming your lawn, weeding your gardens. Oh, House, you are so comforting. Sure, your joints creak. Mine do, too. And that Yacht Club still doesn’t like me.
But, House, how fortunate we are that, even now, we can still support each other.
How very, very fortunate…