We just aren't living a full life out here in the boonies. Our newness to the area keeps us from having a constant stream of visitors that might make this kind of bucolic paradise alright for a Louisiana-bred social-minded couple, but our physical distance from all things related to the kids' schools and my husband's workplace are keeping us homebound and exhausted from the activity of just getting to and from those places. We barely have a chance to meet anyone and certainly aren't as integrated as we thought we would be by now. In addition to our individual frustration with this now missing social aspect of our lives, our marriage has been strained—we both need to to see each other outside our roles of spouse and parent and back in our natural element of fun-loving man and woman.
We started looking at homes last month, stringently nixing any houses without mature trees, without pools, without guesthouses... And, uh, yeah—you can imagine how well that went.
So we widened the net a bit. And then we widened it some more. And then I spent a morning at my friend's (one of the very few) house. She lives in a country club development that my only experience with, before that morning, had been via a viewing of the most malaise-soaked house I've ever seen.* I shook that off, however, when I settled into a sofa, Starbucks in hand (Starbucks being a novel treat these days, as the nearest one is 35 minutes away and inconveniently located to my normal pathways, at that), in Bee's delightful home. I asked for her opinion on living there, curious about her thoughts since she is a recent transplant, as well, haling from a neighborhood in Washington state that sounded not unlike the one we had left in Madison.
She explained that she had some initial reservations—lack of trees, fear of losing a unique identity that one might feel is inextricably tied to one's home, fear and mistrust of suburban douche-baggery and soullessness (okay, those last two are all me)—but the ease of living there and the subsequent happiness of the kids had outweighed them. She went on to talk about how she can let the kids take off for the park or a friend's house on their bikes after school and never worry about what might happen to them, how neighbors watch out for you and your kids, how she can exercise at the club (yes, they even have yoga and pilates classes) just down the road, play tennis with the kids, and they can use the club pool all summer long. I was warming to all of these pictures of neighborhood bliss, when she suggested we walk over to this house just down the way that she knew had been sitting empty for awhile, because she had looked at it herself months before. And then we did something that has become almost unthinkable since moving to Lousiana—
We walked there.
The angels sang as we walked along the sidewalk, putting one foot in front of the other with the intention of arriving at a pre-determined destination—the novelty of it in my newly car-dependent existence made me positively giddy! We went by houses that, while somewhat soulless by virtue of their resplendent newness, were not altogether lacking in character. This was good. I couldn't have picked out a single facade from the other neighborhood street that housed the previously mentioned Maison de Mélancolie.
We got to the house and it looked... nice. We peeked through the door and windows and it looked... really nice. I resolved to call my agent after leaving and make sure it was on our list of places to look at the next day. I finished my visit with Bee and headed home while getting the viewing lined up. It turns out that the price had just dropped on the house, putting it into our price range (barely), and the listing agent said that she was expecting an offer later that day. Riiiiiight. Okay, maybe she was telling the truth, who knows, either way, I bumped the viewing up to right after picking up the kids from school. My husband met me there and I walked over from my friend's, who graciously let me leave the kids to run amuck at her place while we took a look.
If I had to guess, I'd say it was the vaulted ceiling in the family room with exposed wood and cypress timbers and the gorgeous outdoor kitchen and fireplace that won us over. It has a uniqueness that appeals to both of us and the living spaces are really well laid out for both day-to-day family life and entertaining.
We hope to close and be in the new place by the end of next month and it is not soon enough. The boys get to stay at their current schools, so the move should be pretty seamless. We want to get in and then press the reset button on our whole Cajun experience, this time with the self-knowledge that we need a social component in our marriage to make this family work. Marriage without date nights, it turns out, is just not sustainable for us. It is part of our dynamic that must be acknowledged and adhered to, without fail. Date Night saved our marriage after our first son was born and it will do it again, I am sure, 13 years later.
So, even though it means saying goodbye to this (and the romantic notions that it carried):
|Goodbye, sunsets from the porch swing.|
*Oh, that sad, sad house! It sat at the edge of a cul-de-sac, this Maison de Mélancolie, squeezed into an odd lot-sized submission, garage presented to the world. I'm not sure where the melancholy radiated from, whether it was from the house or my own person, but there it was, haunting every forest green and navy blue embellishment. The grandiosity of every "upgrade" spoke of more flush economic times, when the family who first lived there probably enjoyed every privilege and then sent their blooming children off to college. The tiredness of the oaken cabinetry and the pervasiveness of the aggressive wallpapering of every room in those most fashionable of early-nineties colors spoke of current harder times, or maybe just neglect, that allowed the people living there to let life and times go on without caring that their home was becoming more and more dated. In fact, they were unloading the house "as is", water damaged walls and baseboards, included. That the house had been sitting empty for who knows how long and they still didn't make the effort to have it cleaned up and repainted speaks volumes, I suppose, just as the house spoke volumes to me—all of it of the most dire nature and all saying "DO NOT BUY HERE."