Matt and I began our relationship on cruise ships, where accommodations were less than spacious. We moved from there to Tokyo, living in a series of tiny apartments which, in case they weren’t small enough already, we added a dog to. When we decided to make the move from Japan back to NY, I came over first to scout out a place for us to live. Matt and I rented in Harlem before it became cool- in a crappy, semi- illegal basement duplex that flooded heavily every time it rained. We then bought another crappy apartment in Brooklyn, which Matt and our contractor renovated to reveal the beauty beneath the blue shag carpet. We lived there for almost five years, in which time this neighborhood also became cool and our values changed drastically. I became pregnant, and with the focus now on family, we looked to sell.
When I was six months pregnant, we used our babymoon to California as an opportunity to show the clean and empty apartment, and when we returned to New York, we had accepted an offer. Co-op boards and other delays dragged the process on over the next three months. We finally set the closing for a week after my due date, and booked a short term rental to begin the day prior to closing, with a long enough stay to allow a window to search for the next place. The small profit we turned and this shift in mentality led us away from the city, looking for something bigger and better than previous crappy accommodations.
As Murphy’s Law would dictate, I gave birth on the morning we were supposed to close, pushing back both the sale and the move to our summer rental. We drove the two hours north to Putnam Valley five days after I delivered our son, with our car crammed to the roof- full of 90% baby’s things, and 10 percent the four of us. Matt returned to Brooklyn to move all our earthly possessions to storage and sign over our apartment three days after that.
We had never been to Putnam Valley, but a search on VRBO.com (Vacation Rental By Owner) provided an ideal solution for our short-term needs. We found a cute house on a lake, complete with private dock, canoes and paddleboats, and a back garden to hammock away the afternoons- all for a comparable price to renting a 1 bedroom in Manhattan. The place is owned by a British woman with a small dog, and the house had Bennington Pottery in the cupboards (the town’s College being my alma mater), so it all seemed somehow fated. We were excited to all get to know each other in this country idyll.
As the apartment search progressed, previous front-runner locations seemed to pale in comparison to where we were renting. I had a commute to keep in mind, and had always restricted our potential radius accordingly. As we looked at crappy apartment after crappy apartment, something became vitally apparent- We weren’t looking for the same things we used to. Access to bars and restaurants had shifted to access to grocery stores and good schools. Memories of nights out would be traded for memories of the baby growing up. Space and privacy were now of utmost importance. Even the dog’s needs had changed.
In each apartment, the future seemed harder to envision than it was for growing up on the lake. And so, we began looking for houses. We found a variety of options within our original budget, putting us further away from the city but closer to our dream. After many viewings, we returned to one of the first properties we saw- in need of renovations, but a long-loved house on the lake, on a private road with access to a beach and dock directly across the street. Here, we have imagined many stages of our lives, and can envision a future full of adventures. We are currently in verbal contract with the owner, sealed with a handshake and good faith. Since there is a hurricane passing through this fourth of July, our planned outdoor festivities have been placed on hold, and we have holed up in the house to play board games and cuddle instead. Tomorrow, we hope to take a trip to a local farm to buy cheese from their creamery, pick our own fruits, and enjoy a hot air balloon festival.
Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore- or maybe, we’re in Kansas for the first time.