Thursday, July 29, 2010

Home


When I was 21 years old, right after I graduated from college, I moved to Los Angeles because I had wanted to be in the movie business. I had been there a few times before, and it always seemed glamorous, and sunny, and the palm trees didn't hurt, either.

So I got there, and I didn't end up in the movie business - I ended up in the TV business and I had a nice run. But LA never felt like home. Because you have to drive everywhere, it was very isolating, and there was no real sense of community and no downtown where you could walk around and be surrounded by people. I made do, but I always wondered what it would be like to leave. Then I got out of the TV business and I started writing. And because I was writing books instead of screenplays, I realized I really didn't have to stay in LA anymore if I didn't want to. The east coast had always felt like home, and as I got older I felt myself being pulled back there more and more. So I ended up moving to New York City. And the moment I got there, I felt like a duck hitting water. It just fit. And I thought "Ohhhh...so THIS is where I'm supposed to be." The nonstop activity, the nonstop noise, the fact that within a space of a block you can hear a multitude of languages and see a cross section of people from all walks of life.

It was home in a way that nowhere else had ever been.

Then, this summer, I started itching to go on vacation. First I thought I wanted to go to the beach and I looked around for a place to rent for a week on the Cape or in Rhode Island. Nothing. Well, stuff, but you'd have to be Stephenie Meyer to afford them. Then, one night at around 11pm I stumbled across a little farmhouse for rent for the month of July up in Columbia County, NY which is about 2.5 hours from the city. And my eyes widened and I just knew that was supposed to be my house. Lucky for me, the people who were going to rent it backed out at the last minute, so when I drove up that Saturday and pulled up and saw that, yup, I was right, it was indeed my house. At least for the month of July.

Every Friday morning I'd go to Penn Station and get on the Amtrak train and in two hours I was in the country. Instead of jackhammers, I heard frogs. Instead of waiting in long lines at Whole Foods, I stopped at roadside farm stands for just-picked blueberries and peaches. Instead of being slammed up against someone on the 2 train, I was driving down traffic-less country roads with cornfields to my right and mountains to my left.

My first weekend here I said to myself "Ohhh....so THIS is where I'm supposed to be, too."

Which, for a girl who had always yearned to live in the big city was pretty funny. But there's this thing that happens as you get older where, without you even knowing how it happens, you just change. And you like the country. And when you think about what kind of car you'd want to buy if you lived in the country, all you can think of is a station wagon.

A STATION WAGON. And I don't even have kids.

Three weeks later I had found my very own little farmhouse. Up on a hill with views of the Catskills to my left and the Berkshires to the right. The first time my realtor took me there, we couldn't get in because there wasn't a key, but just peeking in the windows, I kind of knew it was mine. And then when we went back again, I definitely knew it was mine.

So I finally had a house in the country of my own. And now I needed a car to get me there.

A few weeks earlier, I had met a really sweet guy named Tom. And when I ran into him one evening, I mentioned that I needed a car and if he had any leads or suggestions, I'd appreciate it. Turns out that people call him the Car Whisperer. So Tom, because he's a really nice person, did some research for me and sent me links to things that might be of interest. Totally went above and beyond and out of his way to help me, a person who was almost a complete stranger. Even if I had never found a car, the fact that he did that meant the world to me. My dad had joked "What you need is a car that was owned by an older person that has really low miles on it." So the other day, at Tom's suggestion, I called a dealership and asked if they had anything in my price range. Turned out they had a '03 Subaru with 36,000 miles. I called Tom to tell him and even though the place was about an hour away, he offered to go with me. The fact that he was willing to give up his afternoon and schlep over across the river with me to Kingston was so nice, I could barely wrap my head around it. And because the whole buying-a-car thing freaks me out, I took him up on his offer.

The car was exactly what I wanted, and I'm picking it up today.

AND it turns out that it was owned by a woman who just turned 83.

But even more important than the car, was the fact that because it took an hour to get there each way, Tom and I got to talk a lot and I realized that my initial impression of "I'd like to be friends with this guy" was right on the money. Which is way more important than a car.

Yesterday I went to my new house and spent two hours there with my landlord as he walked me through and explained everything to me. Like the WASHER AND DRYER which is the thing I've missed more than anything since I left L.A. And as we stood in the kitchen - a real kitchen rather than a tiny kitchenette that's in the living room, which is how I live in Manhattan - I looked out into my backyard - MY BACKYARD! I HAVE A BACKYARD! - and I saw a deer. We locked eyes for a second and then he leapt off and went back into the woods. Apaprently there are a ton of them, and they like to come eat the apples and pears from my apple and pear trees (I HAVE AN APPLE AND PEAR TREE!). Plus, there are otters. Which feels so random to me that I'll have to see it for myself. And rabbits. Lots of rabbits.

This photo is the view to the right of my house. If I can't be inspired to write looking at this, I don't know what will work.

Virginia Woolf talked about the importance of having "a room of one's own".

Now I have a house of my own. With a washer and dryer. And otters. And a station wagon in the driveway.

1 comment:

Sarah B. said...

Congratulations on your country house! That view is fantastic!

I know exactly what you mean about suddenly realizing you like it OUT THERE, instead of always being in the middle of a big city.