Full Circle: Swoon 52
We lived in Manhattan, worked full time, had two kids and knew they were not going to thrive in large classrooms…we could not afford private schools… so we started to get used to the idea that we would leave our city and look for a house. Moving in time for Kindergarten, we had two years to get it right, it would all work out.
Agreeing on Pleasantville (where my business partner already lived) we could move the business up and avoid commuting, it all made sense. I wanted sidewalks, a backyard, and the ability to get anywhere I needed to go… on foot. I circled the area I was willing to live on a map and we waited, savoring our city living.
One weekend our real estate agent asked us to come up and look at houses, she wanted to know what we found important. Conversations went like this…
Agent: You will need to redo the kitchen. Me: I love that 50s formica, this is adorable!
Agent: Ignore the bathrooms, they are pink and black tile. Me: They. Are. Perfect.
She quickly got our number… and one day she called my office and said, drop everything, I have your house. It turned out to be right across the street from my business partner’s home, a bit odd, but they thought it was fine, so up to Pleasantville we drove. I had hives the whole way…a sign. We arrived to an adorable stucco home, surrounded by trees, simple and understated. Pulling up in our little Saturn and parking behind the BMW SUV, we knew we did not have a chance at getting this house. We put our name on the sign in sheet, and as city folk do, we waited for our tour… in the grass. I plopped down in the backyard and stared up at the tree canopy. Gorgeous. It was so quiet. Holy smokes, I almost fell asleep. An older woman (who we later learned was the owner) appeared over me, “What are you doing?” I sat up, “Ohhhh, I am just admiring the trees, these are such amazing trees.”
We saw the house, we loved the house. It was gracious, it had room for huge holidays yet it was cozy. I wanted that house. 13 sealed bids, one overbidding by 100K (yup) later…we did not get the house. We could not compete with people with that kind of money, that kind of money was comical. The thing is, people who can overbid by 100K are usually not the type who want a house with only one full bath (from 1945) and an 8×8 kitchen. They took back their offer and we were asked if we wanted to rebid. Sure, why not. We gave the same bid, cause you know, we were really stupid. Again, the house went to someone else. My house. My house went to someone else AGAIN. Ugg. I was heartbroken, I would not bid on this house again, I was done.
After the house was long forgotten we arrived home from Fire Island and as people used to do…went right to the answering machine. The normal routine, walk in the apartment, put down the children, and push that flashing button, noting the number of calls missed. Back then calls could wait… received while you were having fun, connecting untethered with other humans…it was a beautiful thing. Flashing message number 1, “Hi Nemecs, this is Judy Jones (is that the best real estate agent name EVER?), Welcome to Pleasantville, the house is yours, at your price, call me!” We were floored. What. The. Hell?
We have no idea if this is true, but the story we heard is that the home inspection was a very long process…and the buyers kept mentioning how dark the interior was. Not realizing the owner was in the den, they talked about taking down all of the trees. Unfortunately for them, they failed to realize that there were three thousand, four hundred and fifty six window treatments on each and every window… and just removing the curtains, shades, and swags would bring in more light than anyone might need. Unfortunate for them, very fortunate for us. The owner was so disgusted to hear they would even consider killing healthy trees she went right to her husband…who went right to Judy Jones, who was told to… “Find the kids who love the trees.”
We got our house because we loved the trees… SWOON.
Today we put in a vegetable garden at the far end of the back yard. There was a gorgeous flower garden there when we moved in. The previous owners spent all day, every day, gardening and keeping up the yard. Long ago, I saw the previous owner walking by our house, I apologized to her. We had not kept up their beautiful gardens. She responded “My dear, we did not have those gardens when our children were young either, the backyard was a baseball field. If you kept that garden going as it was, I would question your parenting.” Wow.
Our backyard had the mandatory jungle gym and rubber pool, there were nights of firefly catching and lightsaber battles. There were birthday celebrations, egg hunts, kickball games, dance parties, and Girl Scout events…we had such fun. Now, the kids are grown, and today a garden has been returned, just where it was. Full circle.