Home is a place. It can be a physical structure, such as the picture-perfect clapboard house surrounded tidily by a picket fence, or it can reside in one’s heart as a private place of retreat. Back in 2010, and really or all of my adult life, I was decidedly of the latter persuasion and thought nothing of it. Until the day I bushwhacked down the beat up quarter mile-long driveway that led me to the Butterfly Roof House.
Home is all about the soul. The soul craves roots. It beckons us back to “the old home place” decades later, full of wonder and expectation. Often as not memory and reality prove to be two different things: “I remember it being miles to town. It’s just a few blocks!” “The house is small. I thought it gargantuan!” We can’t go back; that which we recall doesn’t exist any longer. Bittersweet as it is, the only route is forward, carrying home in our hearts. Until we find it in bricks, stones, and siding.
It was time for me to go home. House after house appeared on my screen as I hit MLS in my quest for the first house I would buy solo. My home. I was hopeful, but my expectations were low. I didn’t expect to find a house that made my heart skip, never mind one I could afford. I trudged and trudged through listing after listing…
Yet another MLS listing came up and then, and then… there on my screen was it! The photo of the house had me, then the description: land, a lake, the location… I resisted enthusiasm and swallowed the knot in my throat. “It can’t be. Sure, 6 1/2 acres, that house, but I bet there’s a dump or a power plant right next door. Or the house is right on the property line and a zillion houses per acre are right next door.” Google Earth proved otherwise, but still, I kept myself reeled in.
The next morning I drove past the humugous gorgeous mule (the promise of her being my neighbor on my running route was a big seller!) and turned onto Bailey Road. A pretty, winding country road overarched by mature trees and passing field or two. No concrete plants in sight! “Don’t get excited, there is to be a major deal breaker. It’s to good to be true.”
A fallen down for sale sign marked the entrance to an abandoned-looking lane. (Or was it me who knocked it down upon leaving that afternoon?) Good thing, for the number on the mailbox was barely discernable.
Trees branches brushed my truck as I turned in dodging potholes in the pavement. “Ha! This is why I drive a truck!” The driveway proceeded through woods, down a hill and then took a ninety degree turn to the left, through big pines. Suddenly a small lake appeared on the left, with a dirt lane leading along it’s north side. That’s where the driveway to the house took off up and rightish. I gasped in my first view of it.
Did I laugh, did I cry? I know a person can do both at once. The truck came to a stop. So did I. Planted.
The achy feeling of an once-loved home abandoned and fallen into disrepair enveloped me. A hidden gem. As I made my way around the house soaking it in, what I learned fro observation brought more questions. Who built this house? Who lived here and loved it? Who planted these azaleas and daylilies? I scoured the place for clues, looking for hearts, needing to know the story, the soul of the place.
Not much was to be seen peeking into the windows. It didn’t matter. If an inspection revealed it wasn’t about to fall into the ground from termites it was mine. Anything else I could deal with. I headed off to my friend Ivan’s house for a 4th of July party. Yes, it was Independence Day.
The next day I drove to the barn where my Mom was keeping her miniature horses. After a bit of small talk I said, “Mom, I want to take you somewhere, show you something.”
As I turned the truck up that last rise and the house came into view, I pulled to a stop in front of the house. Quietly, Mom said, “Jodie, you’re home.”
My most formative growing up years were spent in a Deck House in Rehoboth Massachusetts, similar to the one shown here. It’s obvious why my definition of home includes contemporary and mid-century architecture. I had never ever since met a house that wrings tears from my heart. I put a contract on it before stepping foot inside. Three years later it has proven to be the place my soul craved, the place it needed to take root, the physical place I didn’t know I needed. I still well up when I walk through the rooms before bed, gathering kitties, wishing my Butterfly Roof House a good night.