My daughter lent me a book called Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in That House by Meghan Daum, which ironically, was published as I was moving out of mine. The graceful grey edifice that was home, we referred to as The Big House, A Wreck, The Worst Mistake We Ever Made and a couple of others which I’ve since forgotten.

We are a blended family. He came with three kids and an elegant Cavalier King Charles spaniel. I came with a college aged daughter, a ginger cat and an aging mother. In a burst of tenderness we adopted a dog, Lucca, who was the baby of the family. The grey house while not being in the lush suburb from which he hailed, nor close enough to the train or bus to give my mother the sense of independence that she craved, was otherwise perfect. For us. And for all and sundry who came with us. It was clear from the moment I saw it.

We made the offer (full asking price) before the open house even took place. This was 2004. I had just turned forty. My spouse and I  worked together and we worked hard, sometimes generating real money. There wasn’t any reason we wouldn’t be successful. He walked through the rooms, and sighed, “Ah Hayes, this house is going to need some serious work.” He knew. He’s an architect. And I had become a designer, but more than that, I am a romantic and a die hard optimist. It can be a recipe for disaster.

And the sunlight streamed in through the simple leaded window over the window seat at the top of the stairs opposite the front door, which was glass, giving the sense, by and large, of  four exposures. Airy, simple, but a Victorian! How crazy is that? I mean, this house was beautiful. Our first evening, we sat in the back yard as the the stars came out, and watched our family turning on the lights, moving through the spaces of their new home.


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