I can tell you with 100% confidence that there was never a time I wasn't completely obsessed with houses. Apple/tree. My mother is, and has always been, completely obsessed with houses. There is, however, a difference between those houses you've loved forever and those houses you've had close enough to your grasp to imagine living in forever. This morning I drove by the house that started it all for me; flipping the switch between fantasy and albeit deluded reality. When I was 19, I was about a year into my first career job. I was really into that job, but also kind of hated it. Driving around in the country with my friend K was a frequent respite. K usually wanted to drive so she could smoke (no smoking in my car!). K drives too fast and has a fiery Italian temper that never quite cools off. We were both always breaking up with our boyfriends and pissed as hell at them for...something. We would end up in little towns and buy lottery tickets from the junkiest looking carryouts. We were quite superstitious about where to buy them, certainly there's no way we'd win buying them from a conveniently located BP. For this fanatic superstition, you'd think we'd had success with the method. K liked to drive in the country because she could drive fast and there wasn't anyone in her way. I loved it for the exposure to old, interesting houses. She never understood my love for old houses and I never understood her love for trayed ceilings and kitchen islands with fifteen levels of countertop and other "builder upgrades". K wanted new new new and I wanted old old old. She also never understood my desire for a flat-front house. She likes houses with 25 bay windows, a turret, a portico, and any other appendage one can imagine. What we had in common was an ever-strengthening sense of domesticity.
Anyway, it was first on one of these drives that I saw the For Sale sign on this dream house of mine. It wasn't far off in the country, nor was it old. But it was a flat-front colonial nestled among big trees. Of course at 19, I had no business even thinking I could have bought it. It was $319,000.00 which was about $310,000.00 over my budget. I would drive by it constantly. I picked paint colors for the wood siding and toiled over which shade of blue to paint the front door. I was quite sure Kentucky Blue was perfect. The house, of course, would have been painted white before the seller's car was out of the garage. This was before Zillow and The Secret. Despite the lack of real estate photos and Oprah teaching me to make a vision board, I had that house imagined down to the lampshades. This was all in September. By January, the new owners had moved in and I begrudgingly accepted I had missed out.
I had no interest in seeing that house for many years. It stung. Not because I couldn't buy it when it was for sale, but because my life veered so far from the life I imagined in that house. I felt foolish. As if anyone's life follows the course he/she's imagined.
This morning, I read this excellent post by my friend at the Hot Flash Homestead and it really stuck with me. I've been off this week and have a few projects going. One of which is testing shades of orange paint. As everyone knows, sometimes you just have to step away from the swatches. So I figured I'd go get another coffee. Coming out of line, the urge hit me to drive by that house. I'm just not sure why.