Friday, April 18, 2008
On April 17th, Liza at It's just me, also known as The Egret's Nest, posted a piece titled Have You Ever Fallen in Love (with a house? or rather a piece of property?) Her words and especially her photographs were beautiful, and made it very clear why anyone might fall in love as she did.
It made me think of a trip I made to New Jersey from Long Island, New York, thirty years ago.
My husband had passed away two years earlier. I wanted to make the move to Cape May County. My mother and sister both were living here. No family remained on Long Island. And it was the place Ralph and I had intended to make our home "some day". My youngest daughter and I made a visit to scout out the area.
We looked at many houses in North Cape May. Then we decided to take a break and wander down to the shore area. On the way we saw a house for sale, and I decided to take a look, even though it was way too large and too expensive. It was old, and in some disrepair, but I fell in love with it immediately. It just felt like home to me. I even loved the dirty, dingy basement. Can't explain why. Perhaps it was reminiscent of the basement I remembered from the house where I was born. The whole place was dusty and musty. No one had spruced it up to try to make a sale. There were forgotten odds and ends here and there - old bottles and boxes. They just added to the charm for me and I imagined myself investigating them. Who knew what other treasures I might have discovered in closets or corners. Ah well.
I tore myself away, and we put it behind us. My daughter had little interest. She wanted to get on with our trip toward the ocean. - Thirty years later, I am so grateful we could not buy that house. The property across the street, which we had been told by the realator could never be built on, is now developed. And the taxes on that particular piece of property are today sky high. This is how it looks today. I'm not too fond of the dog statues in front, but it really does look nice. Someone has put a whole lot of work into it.
We went on to Cape May City. As we drove down Beach Avenue we saw a huge house, facing the ocean, empty and for sale. A beautiful place of course like most on Beach Avenue, but nothing I would ever have dreamed of, so far beyond my financial means as to be laughable, and far beyond the needs of our little family unless we intended to start a Bed and Breakfast. She wanted to look, and out of curiosity, we went inside. I thought it was beautiful, but had no further interest. My daughter, on the other hand, fell in love completely. She was awestruck by the graceful twin staircases, meeting on the second floor under a gorgeous stained glass window. And when we went upstairs and out onto the small balcony overlooking the Atlantic, that did it. She begged me to buy the house. When I told her it was impossible, she practically threw a temper tantrum. To an eight year old I guess nothing is financially impossible. "But Mom! We have to buy a house anyway. Why can't we have this one?" The temper was not like her. She was just so completely enamored of the place, she could not accept the fact that it could not be. She was angry with me for a long, long time.
Today that house is the thriving restaurant, Peter Shields Inn, and even more beautiful than it was thirty years ago.
We bought a nice split level in North Cape May, but each time I drive past either of those houses, I feel a little wistful, remembering the dreams.