Back in California, fifteen years ago, we purchased what had been our dream house for YEARS. When the kids were little we’d walk past this house with our strollers, at it admiringly, and sigh, “If only…” And then, nearly a decade later, the dream became reality—the house was ours: century two-story Craftsman, big wraparound front porch, French doors and coffered ceiling in the dining room, spacious living room with fireplace and built-in bookcases, quarter-sawn oak floors, big second-story window seat…I could go on and on. It broke my heart when we decided to move. Second only to leaving our wonderful Pasadena friends was leaving this gracious Historic Highlands home.
The house we subsequently purchased was nothing like it. Built in 1978, complete with peach shag carpet and vinyl siding, it seemed the opposite of who we are and what we were seeking. But what the house lacked in old-world charm it had like no other: Spirit. We bought the house for the feeling inside. We spent a small fortune and fixed it up the best we could. Made it comfortable and livable and lovely. Ripped out the carpet and replaced it with Brazilian hardwood. Tore down the wallpaper, patched the resulting holes, and chose lovely shades of paint. Opened up the kitchen so it flowed better into the family room.
Then all of a sudden one day I realized I was living in my dream house. Not our Pasadena dream house, a completely different dream house—the house I dreamed of when I was a child.
I used to love watching The Waltons on television. I thought Olivia Walton was the source of all wisdom and loveliness, the crotchety grandparents were hilarious and adorable, and all the siblings saying good night at the end of every episode made theirs the coziest house ever. I also loved that there was a light on upstairs while nighttime journaling was happening. Never mind that they were living during the Great Depression—the food always looked amazing. I loved seeing the kids walk to school barefoot, along the banks of a stream. I fantasized a big, two-story white farmhouse like the Waltons, and wanted to live THERE…wherever there was.
What I realized that day is that THERE is HERE. It's uncanny, really. I live in the big, two-story white farmhouse I envisioned as a child. We live on a beautiful wooded acre that feels as private and secluded as if we lived on a Virginia farm. Our dogs run through the trees, over the grassy hillsides, and deer and quail come to visit. Coveys of kids gather and walk to school, meandering through our yard. For the first several years we even had a stream running through our yard. I got exactly what I wanted. But I had no idea when we bought it.
I think what I learned is that “perfect” doesn’t always look like our mind’s conception of perfection. But it does answer our deepest desires.