I’m breathing easier.
I’ve finished unpacking and, although my house is not even nearly complete in what I envision my tiny cottage to look like in the end, I feel safe and secure in the knowledge that I have a home that is just what I imagine “home” would look like.
Those who know me, especially those who know me well enough to have read my manuscript, always tentatively titled “Rabbit Greens”, know that I have always wanted to live in a tiny thatched roof cottage made of stone and set next to a little bubbling brook. I write about it, I draw it, I talk incessantly about how it is what I want, I wake up from moody dreams that reflect the image back to me, over and over again. Have you ever seen the version of the Cranberries song “Dreams”, where she goes ahead and brings home a tree trunk to wash off in her bathtub to reveal her love? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlMWAl7tIro)
Yeah, my dream home looks a lot like that. And yes, there should, if it was perfect, be a white horse running around as well. Luckily, I am a simple girl and am happy to take a ginger pit-bull mix named Ava…
Anyway, I’m the type of girl that couldn’t be happier than I am when I am isolated in the woods, tucked up all warm and nestled in a one room cottage, all green hills and huge trees fencing me in…I loved the highlands of Scotland for just this very reason. On Skye I wanted nothing more than to stay tucked away in a fisherman’s cottage, eating fresh scallops and petting a striped ginger cat.
But these days, I live in Portland. And yes, on the edges of the city center there are plenty of lush green areas where hippies have sweet little organic farms. But I am not a farmer. I am most definitely a teacher and I’m going to be working in the city center. Actually, if I think about it, possibly one of the most “city center” buildings I could ever have thought to be working in. And I dislike driving. At least as a “commute.” Just for fun? I will drive for hours without thought, just to get away…London and Edinburgh ruined me forever in terms of cars. I want the freedom that only walking and a vibrant community can give you. Cars run out of gas, parking is a nightmare, sometimes you want a beer…my legs have yet to fail me.
With Ava in my mind, I went to work to find us a good home. It had to be in a location I love— Sorry all hipsters, I am too old for the South East…also, I reiterate: I like to walk. And the South East is very spread out. The South West was where I have been living and while it has cute pockets, it left little to do on any given night. The North East felt too industrial to me. But the North West? Just right for me, with streets lined with independent shops ,“box” stores, and trees. Dog parks, community co-ops, and Forest Park (with some of the best hiking trails in the city) on my doorstep, it might well have also been the most dog friendly part of town I had looked at. But alas and alack, it was still hard going, as Ava is (mostly) a pitty. There is no denying that she is 60 pounds of muscle and excitement. Portland, for all it’s talk of community, can still be mostly talk, and having a pit bull makes you nearly enemy #1. It was kind of disheartening, but I did meet a lot of really cool dog owners along the way, so that was amazing.
Exhausted from searching one day, nearly ready to simply tell my parents that she would have to continue living with them because it was becoming painful to search for a place that was ideally located, pretty, allowed pits, and did NOT allow crack heads, I met Brian.
Brian was out running with his beautiful pit, Coraline. She is a grey, smiley rescue and Brian has a similar grin. He even took it well when I ran after him and, nearly out of breath, asked him where he lived. I am such a creeper.
A long, long story short:
I live in a 1920’s brick bungalow studio apartment with a graciously small back yard and banana tree right in front of my front bay window. Brian lives across the walk way, with his beautiful pit, and next door lives Mike, a man with another terrier. It feels like it couldn’t be a better fit, especially when my neighbors come by and introduce themselves or knock on my door at night to ask how my parents are coping back in New York with the hurricane.
As time goes by and I start to make the place look less like an un-used yoga studio and more like a home, I will post pictures.
Right now I am pretty thrilled with how much it looks and feels like the cottage I have been obsessively imagining for years. I bought myself my first piece of furniture, which is a long wooden table: I have it pushed up against the window so I can write and then, clear it off when I want to serve dinner to anyone who wanders by. I learned a lot from traveling: I know I want to spend my days writing and cooking and having my house filled with impromptu dinner parties. I loved the sense of how important food was in Bulgaria and Romania and Greece. My favorite part of Greece was in fact, the time I spent cooking for everyone. The best memory of that time? When I served Craig and Johanna up a meal of linguine and shrimp, speckled with a mash up of fresh herbs found alongside the back roads and oil and butter and lemon, and as we sat, almost silently, gorging ourselves so that butter ran down our faces, Craig smiled triumphantly: “Now this is how we eat!”
I’m excited to create those memories in my new house. It’s not going to be fancy there, I’m not going to have expensive furniture or decadent knick knacks. It’s going to revolve around the kitchen, that table, and probably all the plants I am going to have growing up and over every corner, inside and out.
Already I have set up a white picket fence around my tiny front garden and Brian says, “Leave it just there, it’s perfect.”