16 September 2008

Fences Make Good Neighbors?

I keep creating fences. Actual fences that mark property lines or make a barrier from the street. We're visiting my mom in Southern Maryland where summer lingers in the lush two hundred year old oaks, the bank of the river which sits at the end of my mother's broad, green lawn. On this morning's run, I passed home after waterfront home- some old farm houses, some modern mansions, the odd trailer. I paused at the small cemetery, to see the local names: Joy, Younger, Lusby (the town's namesake)- deaths at the turn of last century. There are swing sets here, the same kind I had as a child. There was an old man on a shiny John Deere, circling his land. There was a Thai woman who had arrived by golf cart. She apologized that she was picking mushrooms. She showed me the plump russet caps. "No die,"she assured me.

The striking, unifying feature of the landscape is the lack of fences. My fifteen years of city living doesn't know what to do with all this interconnectedness. Azaleas and lines of oaks, or variations in grass height make the divisions known, but a person or animal or child could just wander from yard to yard unobstructed. I grew up this way for years, but it comes now as a revelation. Everyone with whom I currently spend any amount of time has a boxed-in yard. I am happy be in these open spaces, knowing the traffic is minimal and the distance from house to street, in most cases, far. But I still keep inserting fences. It is strange.

10 September 2008

This one is up there on the list of really shitty days

How can you not imagine the details of your new home when you offer fifty thousand dollars over asking price on a house your whole family genuinely loves? Who would think that when you offer to close in 21 days and say you won't even inspect the home that someone else would nab it from you?

I am heartbroken tonight. It was honestly a shitty day from start to finish. I woke at 5:40am to a jealous, screaming Stella, who wailed "pick me UUUUP!" when I managed to get Otto to sleep again in bed. He was asleep on top of me, so I couldn't get out from under and Stella would not shut up. I finally moved him to grab her and put her in bed with us (Augusto left before 5 am for an overnight to LA). Naturally he woke, cranky again after I jostled him. So that's how it began. We fought over shoes and teeth and exactly how to get into the car, and I arrived late to work only to learn that a term pregnant patient's entire family and fiancee were killed in a political-religious fire bomb riot half a world away. And another woman's baby died. And a colleague's father murdered his mother when he was a kid. And then we were out bid by someone who offered a little bit more and could close on the house in 14 days. And then the kids were shitheads, so I chugged two glasses of wine and bickered with them until they finally went to bed at 9:45 pm.

Oh, but they wanted to sell the house to us. We've heard that twice now and it only makes me feel worse. We wrote a letter to the sellers, spilling our visions of the future. What if we do find another house to bid on? How can any other letter be genuine after that one?

Now it's night two, up too late, barely keeping my eyes open, and I am still imagining our now non-existent lives in the house on the hill, not getting out of my head the many children under age five who live a house or two away, where I would put the hook for the dog's leash, curl up to read the paper, or plug in my phone to charge. And I am totally unable to imagine how you undo the visions of your life with baby and husband and grandparents and suddenly a friend of the family calls long distance and it is all gone.

I wish I could offer some perky optimism, but I used up this week's hope already.

09 September 2008

Here We Go Again

I always manage to post when I should be doing something else. Right now I should be sleeping, or taking a couple of Valium, at least. We singed another offer on a house tonight. Fearing a repeat of the nine-offer marathon that led to our current home, we decided to jump off the cliff. Many factors pushed us to the edge: school applications due in December, conforming loan stimulus package ends in December, the general thought that if we're going to sell our home, we should get it on the market soon, and most importantly WE LOVE A HOUSE! I know, I know, I said that about the one with the sword ferns. After 8 offers in 2002, our Realtor asked if we really loved the house we ended up buying, because it looked like we were going to get it. By then, we weren't even letting ourselves get to that point.

The truth is, I loved the house from last month. Augusto didn't. It was crazy to offer. Today when we sorted out our offer, the energy was great. We have seen many homes now. We BOTH love this house. "Just tell me one thing you love about it?" I asked. He usually holds his cards close, and never wants to get his hopes up about anything. "I love that it's all one level, so when you come home in the rain with a sleeping kid, you can drive right into the garage, go directly into the house, and it's not 13 steps up to the bedroom." It is a great house. A sleek mid century modern with an amazing open floor plan. This home will truly be fantastic for our family. I stomped around the neighboring streets and met a woman who raised her adult son there. She filled me in on all the young families who recently moved in and how hard the couple selling the house had worked to improve it.

It is right that we are here now, offering thousands of dollars more for this one than we did for the other one. It was meant to be.

02 September 2008

Marriage Understood, or How We Ended Our Weekend at the Russian River


Late weekend morning, I'm still in my pajamas, we're been talking about gardening for over an hour. Stella puts a glittery fuzzy hearts feelers headband on me.

Stella: Mama, let's get married!

Me: How do we do that?

Stella: You tell me.


Me (straightening my posture, wiggling the sparkly hearts perched on my head): OK. Stella, I love you, and I want you to be my wife.

Stella (with a rare, direct-into-the-eyes look): OK, I'll be your wife. Now go change your shirt and come work in the garden with me.



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