By the early nineties my wife was completely fed up with commuting and decided we needed to move across town. I resisted but she finally convinced me. This was mostly pre-internet so a lot of our house searching was through realtors and drive by.
As I remember it we were walking in a neighborhood and talking about the kind of house we would like when a realtor overheard us and told us about a house we might be interested in. When we went to see the house, my older son, who was one year old at the time, was covered in chicken pox. The home was a total wreck. Windows were broken, the paint and wallpaper were peeling off the walls, and the kitchen was a complete disaster. I immediately knew, this was my dream home.
The house was situated in the back of a court. It sat on a large pie shaped lot with a small front yard and almost an acre of land in the back, which bordered along a creek. The back was almost completely native riparian habitat with large, mature oak and sycamore trees. Yet there was a strip of land around the house that could be landscaped. It was perfect.
The owner of the house was a single, ornery old man who happened to be the original developer of the subdivision back in the 1950’s. Our realtor was my wife’s sister-in-law who had just freshly gotten her real estate license. The homeowner’s neighbor was a seasoned realtor who drove a hard bargain and made it sound attractive. We pretty much got taken to the cleaners, but I didn’t care. This home was mine!
We moved in and due to our poor financial situation slowly started fixing up the place. My Dad helped me a lot as we replaced windows, stripped wallpaper, painted. It was overwhelming. I can’t believe that my wife put up with all this nonsense. Eventually we hired a contractor and remodeled the kitchen and some other parts of the house. I worked in the yard, clearing poison oak (during which I got a terrible case of), planting a lawn and such. I built a wood and wire fence along the creek in the back of the property, which was a huge job. It was like building the Great Wall of China. It took me several months to complete it.
We had a rabbit. One Christmas, my family gave me a ton of bare root roses that I planted in a rose garden. My wife’s father tended a prolific vegetable garden with raised beds, which I built for him. That house was great fun for me.
Finally, the house was starting to really look nice. We had lived there for about seven years, when my wife decided that the school district was not good enough and we had to move. I was heart broken. We talked about private school, but really did not have the money and I am a firm believer in public school anyway. She was persistent and adamant. We had to move. Eventually I caved and we sold the house and moved to a better school district.
In retrospect, it was probably better for the kids in terms of education and such to move, but I will always miss that house. I think that those were my best years. It was the happiest time in my life. Home is very important to me. It represents security and houses family. It is where your roots hit the dirt. Right before we left, I planted a bunch of Alder tree seeds along the bank of the creek. I wonder if any of them ever grew up. Maybe one day I will go back and take a look.