23 February 2014

Who's house is it, anyway?

Hey Zoster,

    We'd like to recap a lengthy car conversation that we had today, whilst driving you from a brilliant kids theatre show (oirish pirates, oh my!) to a string quartet from Julliard playing in the local library.  In the snow, we should mention, since it was super duper snowy today.

    We drove by a house that we didn't buy, but wanted to, and you mentioned our house in Red Hook. So we talked all about how we really bought that house for you. Mama and Papa don't really need the huge backyard.  Frankly it's a gigantic pain in the arse all autumn, what with the raking and all...  But you jumping in the piles of leaves - there's value in that.

   There were all the other houses.  There was this fantastic place way up on a hill that Mama really wanted.  It had a huge great room flanked by 14' windows that looked over the surrounding hills. And a woodbunrning stove in the middle of the room, and quite possibly the prettiest granite counters in the history of this world.  They looked like pink woodgrain running the length of a very long, very new, galley kitchen. But then there were the cliffs on one side of the property, and the unbelievably hilly terrain that surrounded the house.  You'd never, ever be able to play with a ball outside.  That much was abundantly clear.

     There was the mod custom architect-designed 50s place that Papa wanted.  It needed a wee bit of freshening but had a courtyard - A COURTYARD! - and was just dreamy and swell.  But in the wrong school district.

    Then there was the cape.  Your mother's heart still burns at this one.  It was 1930s splendor, all craftsman wood detailing throughout (buried in countless layers of paint papa adds...) and full of charm.  It also conjured up memories of our 1920s townhouse that treated the first years of this family so well.  And, let's be clear on this, the property backed up onto a stream and had a heart-shaped pond.  Yup. And it was even really close to the cutest town in the Hudson Valley - just a half mile - but you'd never be able to ride your bike there. It was a major road with no shoulder. You were three and we were terrified for you walking to your friends houses in your teens...

    And then there was the colonial.  It was on 8 acres of pretty neat terrain, had a lake and stream and a huge granite outcropping in the woods.  And you know what - we would've actually bought that one, but the listing agent was a . . .  piece of work.  There was an imaginary bidding war, and we decided to leave it and head to greener pastures.  And the mosquitoes were intense.  So intense, in fact, that the previous owners had added on a $50k glass room to the house - just to enjoy the yard without the bugs.

   So we bought you a nice little 1950s ranch.  In papa's parlance it's "bog standard" but in a great neighborhood.  You and mama can walk down the street to the library for story hour, and stop at the farmstand on our corner for fresh produce on your way home. School is just a few blocks away, as are some pretty great restaurants. And we get thousands of trick-or-treaters because the the village is that great.  (Take that, Squirrel Hill.)  Sure, the house isn't architecturally significant or estate-like; as a matter of fact it's probably the most ubiquitous floorplan in this country, perhaps even eclipsing the Levitt homes that sheltered your predecessors.

    And let's be honest, for many months you waxed poetic about how our new house has TWO bathrooms, one that is pink and one that's green.  That is a neat fact - though it'll soon change. And the back yard - it's one thing to be in a village, but to pull off being in the village with a couple acres and woods behind the house is like an awesome mullet; business in front, party in back. But you can't build a swingset on a mullet, and your papa built you a pretty sweet swingset back there.

   So when you're a teenager and storm off to a friend's house to complain about this, that, or the next thing, just remember that we bought this house for you.  After all, that's why you were able to walk to your friend's house.

 - Mama & Papa