Not to put too romantic of a point on it, but I’ve noticed most people who live in the suburbs have a habit, good, bad, or otherwise, of believing they are living the dream. Or at the very least they project that they are living the dream.
Go to anyone’s house for the first time – this is especially true of new families in the neighborhood – and you are taken on a tour. The new homeowners walk from room to room and tell you what their plans are for the house. Look, it’s pretty transparent. They are pleading with you to judge them by their grand ideas and aspirations, not reality.
“And this is the upstairs loft, but we’re really going to put French doors on this opening, hang a crystal chandelier, paint it pink and make it a nursery.”
“And this little unfinished storage room is going to be a knockout sound studio for my husband’s band mates from high school.”
Sometimes you go to someone’s house who has just finished a remodel and the tour is something more like this.
“This is the man cave (insert eye rolling) my Tom just had to have a poker room. And I finally granted his wish to have his own space.”
“This is the game room. I just send all the teenagers down here. I’m telling you… we may have the smallest house on the block, but it’s the house everyone wants to hang out at.”
I myself have been giving a tour of dreams for about 12 years. No joke.
When we first moved in, I in my early 20s, would flit about and say things like, “I envision something very William Morris in here. Maybe a built in reading nook with a fine leather chair, maybe an antique table.”
Seven days ago, however, a small construction crew arrived at 8 a.m. and unceremoniously started knocking down walls. Without a second thought they threw out the porcelain prince that I worshipped through both of my pregnancies. They ripped up the carpet where I spilled a huge glass of red wine while bathing my babies. They smashed in the wall that was still stained with blood from the first time I tried to cut Cooper’s hair. And tossed with abandon the tub that cracked this same boy’s chin open. They even cut out the corner of the closet where I hid and cried on the night I came home from the hospital but had to leave my Mason behind in the NICU.
The dream tour has come to an end and with it a few discarded monuments to memories in our lives. A melancholy mix of relief, gratitude and excitement. And I find, as I schlep tile samples from plumbing showrooms to stone yards in 100-degree heat, that William Morris and I don’t see eye to eye.
In fact, I’ve learned that truly great design is figuring out what to do once you’ve opened a wall and found an absolutely unmovable post is hidden in there. Learning to love plan B, I guess you could say, is the real dream.
I love my little house on the corner. I'll love it even more when I can use the upstairs bathroom without the fear that contractors are looking up through the vents at my bare bottom.