David and I have been tossing around the idea of getting another house. Neither of us is particularly biting at the house-hunting bit, but we’ve been “pretend” looking: talking about what we’d want, looking online, casing neighborhoods (that sounds terrible. We’re not going to rob anybody, I promise). But we haven’t even called a realtor in to look over our place yet (I have to tidy up the laundry room first). I’ll let you know when we do.
And we’re stuck on neighborhoods. We bought this house because we wanted one with character and natural light, something that wasn’t the same as every other home on the block, a place that wasn’t made out of matchsticks and super glue. And we still don’t want to let go of the dream of “charm,” as long as the next charmer comes with granite countertops and a two-car garage. But we just don’t know where to look. We initially thought we’d search for a place within the borough lines of our local town–being able to walk everywhere, having a close neighborhood would be nice–but we started to notice that every house we liked had one thing in common (other than that coveted garage, of course): all the houses had land.
Well, we said, so much for that, and keep scouring the internet for ideas. But look, I told David, look at this awesome house! This is perfect! Open floor plan, wrap-around porch, gorgeous views, on eight acres of wooded property with a cute lawn! Let’s do it, I said, raring to go. Leah, my patient, logical husband told me. It’s in the mountains. So? I said. So, he replied, we’ll be eaten by bears if we go there. Nah, I said (and then found out the next week that a bear walked into a house near my fantasy property and attacked two people. There goes that). But David, I insisted, what if we do look further out? Why not? I’m tired of smog and traffic and the go-go-go of life around here. Leah, he replied, still calm. This house is forty minutes away from Wegman’s. You’d hate it.
I had to give him that. I do like my Wegman’s bakery. But Sunday, we went to visit David’s mom and her husband at their new house north of Baltimore. Now, David was raised in eastern Baltimore, in a rowhouse, in the kind of life where you knew everybody on your block and would only have to walk out onto your back deck to talk to the neighbor who stood three feet away from you on her deck. This is quite the change. Our daughters fell in love with it.
Quinn and Saoirse spent the entire day racing running around that place like squirrels that got knocked out of the tree a few times. (Well, Quinn was holding on to someone’s hand the whole time, but you get the idea). David’s stepdad gave SK a walking stick he’d made, and she wielded that thing like the grand marshal of a parade (I know what you’re thinking, and no, she didn’t poke her eye out. Sheesh). They explored an old barn, and saw chickens, and investigated the border of the woods. They watched deer stroll across the backyard, and learned about grapevines and blue jays.
They saw trees that weren’t standing isolated, surrounded by a tidy pile of mulch.
They played, without the order of a swing set, or a playground, or the usual toys. They were giggling, and flush-faced, and excited, and…
…well, free. They were free.
We drove home that night, and after both girls conked out in their car seats within minutes of us pulling out of the driveway, David and I returned to our house discussion. Dave, I said. Did you see them? Yeah, he said. I saw them. To be able to just let them run loose, I said, and not freak out about cars rushing by or scary people who might appear from the bushes, or taking toys out of the shed and making sure they’re occupied. I know, he said. I want it, too.
But our lives are here. Our lives are in a densely populated, fast-growing suburb, and this is where we need to be. This is our church, and his job, and our friends, and our community, and if the girls go to Catholic schools, their education.
So, I dunno. But I tell you, those kids had a ball. We shall see.