Keep in mind that you are making memories…..And know that if anyone ever says to you, “What will you always remember about this place?” you will know just exactly which story it is that you want to tell them.

–Pam Conrad, Our House

True Story.

One year and seven months ago I had a vivid dream. I was standing in the middle of a white room. Everything was white – the walls, the floor, the ceiling, the cabinets. There was an incredible amount of light – bright, but not blinding – reflecting off all those white surfaces. It was home.

The pole outside my dream building

After waking up from that dream, the Devil and I started our Saturday by visiting a farmer’s market,which led to a walk around the surrounding area.  As we were strolling down Main Street I stopped to take a peek in the window of a building that was for sale. To my astonishment, I saw what appeared to be straight out of my dream: a solid white room. The building was formerly an art studio and it even had the prerequisite lighting. To compound the surreality of that moment, when I turned from the window to ponder this strange coincidence I spotted my friend Meredith making her way across the street towards us.  She was rocking out a kimono. I wondered absently if I was still dreaming.  I wasn’t.

All smiles, waves, and hugs, she approached, “Heeeeeeey! What are you two doing here?”

“Trying to figure out how to buy this building…” I said without thinking.

“Oh! Come with me.” she said.

And just like that, we followed.

A couple doors down from my dream building was another art studio. Meredith led us in, introduced us to the couple that owned the place. They gave us a tour of their apartment on the second floor. We chatted for quite some time with the couple. Hours. At some point the other neighbors were called. We met them. More time flew by. By the end of the visit I was convinced the dream building and these neighbors were meant to be mine. So began my infatuation. I saved, I planned, I plotted. I made regular pilgrimages to the place. I talked about it to real estate agents, bankers, and basically to anyone and everyone who would listen.

As it turned out, some horrible man bought the building before I could and turned it into a fitness center. Maybe he really isn’t a horrible man. Still, he bought my building. Horrible!

is this home…?

Time marched on. The home search continued. We looked far and wide in a search that spanned two states, multiple cities, and countless houses and buildings. I could have been satisfied with most of the houses we toured. The Devil would have none of it. The only two houses he liked out of the whole lot were bizarre and utterly uninhabitable for mere mortals.  One had a basement that reeked so badly of mold and mildew that neither I nor the agent would even venture down there. The Devil spent a solid half hour exploring just the basement of that place, obviously plotting out the nefarious deeds he could accomplish in that lair. The other of his “likes” was a huge, dilapidated Victorian thing in Little Rock, worthy of the likes of Miss Havisham.  It came with holes in the roof that allowed birds – and no telling what other manner of wildlife – to nest in the attic.

they certainly seem at home…

someone left the recipe for blueberry muffins on the pantry door of this home…

After over 12 months of all this I grew increasingly frustrated. One afternoon, the Devil took me to see We Bought a Zoo.  Great movie — wonderful story.  Afterwards the Devil says to me, “I want it to be that way for us.  I want to have that feeling where we just walk in a place and know it’s right – to know that this is where we’re supposed to be.”

Thinking of my dream building and the dozens of other houses we’d seen that I could have worked with, but that were unacceptable to him, I replied, “Yes, that’s a nice fantasy. But let’s get back to reality…I need a place to live and work where I don’t have to keep doing this crazy state-to-state commute. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life looking for something that doesn’t exist.” What I thought but didn’t say is: PLEASE! Can’t we stay logical? Analytical?  Task-oriented?

I ripped the nasty carpet out of one room and painted my frustration on the floor…

And finally, mid-March of this year I gave up. I was done looking at houses – completely over it. I told him so. We could just live in our existing home for the rest of our lives. We could die and rot there for all I cared. After all, there was nothing wrong our existing home. We just needed to get rid of about 17 years of stuff so we could have room to breathe within the limits of its walls.  We just needed to get rid of disgusting 17 year old carpet that had outlived (I use the term loosely) two pets.  We just needed to hire an exorcist to get rid of all the former versions of ourselves that haunted the shadows of every room.  So I called off the house search.  We would have to do what we had to do to make our existing home more happy and livable.

We agreed to begin by replacing the carpet the week I was back in town for spring break.

As the week before spring break drew to a close, the Devil came calling. He told me he wanted me to look at just one more house.  He had spotted a “for sale” sign in the yard as he drove by. It had only been on the market for 12 days.

Given his strange ideas about acceptable living quarters, I was not even remotely enthused by this prospect.  He was enthusiastic enough for us both. I looked at the pictures of the place online and it didn’t look horrible, so finally I acquiesced. He called our agent and set up the appointment.

The moment I walked in the door I felt it.

Peace.

Love.

Home.

…that feeling where you just walk in a place and know it’s right. So strong was the feeling I was overcome. What in the world is wrong with me? I’ve been watching too many damned movies. On the verge of tears, I stepped back outside to collect myself before anyone saw me: the crying crazy lady.  The owner of the house stepped outside with me and said, “I’ve been praying for you to come buy my house.”

We spent an hour that day looking at the house and the grounds.  It was amazing. As we were getting ready to leave, the owner cut her eyes at me and said again, “I’m praying you’re going to buy this house….”

I replied, “…and I’m praying you’re going to sell it to me.”

We moved in 4o days later.

Unlike my dream, nothing here is white.  Everywhere you turn there is color and there is light.

Backyard Sunflowers Rejoice

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