Last night I stayed up waaaaay too late playing PackRat, while Kenny alternately read his book and surfed channels. He finally landed on “The Holiday”, a movie we both enjoyed the first time we saw it. If you’ve never seen the movie before, it’s the story of two women who switch houses for two weeks. One is a big, beautiful, ultra-modern home in Los Angeles, and the other is a small, cozy cottage in rural England. I watched the movie over my right shoulder while stealing from the rats, and I couldn’t help but imgaine what it would be like to inhabit either of the two houses for any length of time.
My initial reaction was to choose the small cottage. Everything looked so cozy, and I loved the idea of living in part of a village, with dirt roads to stroll along and meadows to play in. It really appealed to the romantic side of me. I think that deep down, while I’m not a country (farm) girl, I am probably a small-town kind of gal. I would love to live in a town where everyone knows everyone else. (We’ve lievd on our street for four years now, and I only know half of our neighbors. It’s quite sad, really.) My dad grew up in a town like that, and even though he hasn’t lived there for 33 years, he still knows who lives in a majority of the homes, he attends funerals for those who have passed away, and he has a real sense of pride for his home town.
As the movie progressed, the story left the idyllic countryside and moved to a posh L.A. neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong– I would never turn down the chance to live in a ginormous, tech-friendly house. What I wouldn’t give to have a fancy intercom system or a large iron gate or a swimming pool! (Or a switch that dropped dark curtains over the (many!) bedroom windows, giving the appearance of night in the middle of the day! Can you imagine what sort of restful nap that would encourage?) But there was something missing in that big, fancy house. The part I loved most about it had less to do with the actual house and more to do with the relationship Iris developed with the 90-something man next door. They had such a sweet, supportive friendship! It was really very touching.
(Author’s tangent: Hmmm. I guess I need to make more of an effort to befriend my neighbors. I may not live in a small town, but I sure as heck can encourage a spirit of “community” on my street. I wonder if some cookies will help get things rolling? )
I think I’ve always had a thing for other people’s houses. When I was little, my dad used to go away for the summers to work construction, coming home for weekends and holidays. (I don’t know how my mom did that for so many years, but I know what he brought home during the summers was equivalent to his teacher’s salary. I guess you do what you have to in order to feed and clothe your kids.) Some years my dad built factory plants, and others he did home construction. Those were the summers I liked best, because just before school started, he’d take us on a tour of all the fancy homes he helped my uncles build. I felt like a princess walking through the empty rooms, imagining what the house would look like with our furniture. My mom would always comment on the spacious bedrooms, or the bathroom with two sinks, or a master bedroom with a walk-in closet, while we kids raced up and down the stairs. For us, even two or three stairs were a novelty, because we didn’t have any at our house. Not inside, and not outside. To me, stairs were glamorous.
Even as an adult, I find myself excited by the prospect of touring someone else’s home. Now I’m the one coveting double sinks and garden tubs, and I’m always intrigued by a home’s secrets. I love cleverly-placed closets or surprise add-ons or whimsical details. Sometimes I imagine how I would arrange my furniture in the living space, and other times I think, “This layout would be perfect for my family room!” or “Wow, I could create the perfect nursery/studio/den/etc in this space!” And kitchens! I love kitchens. Pantries, cupboards, corner sinks, bars, counter space, fancy appliances… it’s like heaven. The only problem is, Kenny hates wandering through homes. He thinks I’m weird (and he’s probably right), and he stubbornly refuses to play along. I don’t know… is it a girl thing? The house fantasies? One of these years I’m going to buy myself a ticket to the annual Parade of Homes tour and go without him.
So this brings me back to the point of my post: I love the idea of other people’s houses. Maybe it’s the novelty of a new place, or the feeling of freedom that comes from being out of my comfort zone. Most likely it’s the little-girl wonder at being someplace different, and knowing that while I love my house, even with all its flaws, it’s nice to dream about owning something bigger and better. Fancier.
With lots of stairs, of course.