Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Eleven years ago today, I had a life-changing experience... for me the closest thing to becoming a parent -- I became a homeowner. On July 31, 2001 I bought a beach bungalow in my hometown of Highlands, NJ. This was a huge step for me as I like my freedom and dislike being tied down to a person or place. After a tumultuous period leading up to the closing, I kept wondering why I was spending my 'life savings', on something that would curtail my freedom, but with the help of family and friends, I was able to get the house in shape as a rental. I needed to acclimate myself to the idea of a mortgage payment so renting seemed like a good way to get my feet wet. After a few years of renting, I knew I needed an escape from full-time city life, so I managed to take the house back for myself as a weekend retreat.
The place was a disgusting mess when I bought it and with me not liking to get my hands dirty, were not a good fit. I always thought of myself as Ava Gabor on Green Acres swanning about in elegant outfits and marabou mules. That changed quickly although I never got my mules ( I still want them, pink size 6, please) but I have acquired quite a collection of flip flops. I still read Vogue, but I also read Country Living. I've gotten my hands dirty often now that I am channeling my 'inner Martha,' as my friend, Tom likes to call it, as I garden. I find it so satisfying when my flowers bloom and sad when hard work is ruined by Mother Nature as I experienced after Hurricane Irene last year. One thing that hasn't changed though, is I still don't cook. Never liked it, never will, so my oven is pristine. While my place is a "hobbit house," compared to my friends', I still manage to have some spatial breathing room and even have a few empty drawers that I keep empty on purpose, just because I CAN.
Practically everything in the house is a hand-me-down, flea market find or a purchase from my travels. Everything was hand-picked by me. It's a bright, airy house that has an open door policy, especially in the summer. I'm used to people popping in all the time or calling in the morning and announcing they are 'coming down.' I love the fun and spontaneity that I experience constantly. But there are times when I can just shut the world out and hunker down with some books and magazines and talk to no one. It's a great balance that I cherish.