WEEK 11 ESSAY #6 (Nov. 13, 2009) EFFECT ESSAY
In 1991, my husband and I decided to relocate our family of nine from the greater Boston area to our present home in Brewer, Maine. The home we had leased for two years with the option to buy fell through. The owner decided to return to the United States and move back into his family’s homestead for nostalgia reasons.
The real estate market was out of control. Homes we had previously looked at to buy just two years prior had now tripled in value. Many 4-5-bedroom homes in our neighborhood were now being converted into condominiums. An average one-bedroom unit was now 150k or more. We were forced out of this market. We were forced to make some difficult decisions.
We realized that to be able to find a home to suit our needs; we would most likely need to look beyond Massachusetts. We drew a radius from Boston out 250 miles; north, west, and south. Our search began. We prepared ourselves knowing we would need to make some sacrifices. We made the best choice given what was available at that time. We made an offer on our present house in Brewer, having weighed both the benefits and consequences.
My husband would be living alone in a small room in Chelsea to be close to his work and he would commute home to Brewer on the weekends. I would no longer be able to “just drop in” and visit with my folks or other family members during the week, as I drove about town doing everyday errands. While our children would have a comfortable place to live, with a yard in a safe neighborhood, my husband and I would be building an equity in a home we planned to retire in. We closed on this house in July of 1991.
After a few months, we settled into a routine. My husband would leave Boston on Friday night around 5 P.M. and drive straight through to Brewer checking in with us by phone as he made his gas stops en route. I would meet him in the driveway shortly after midnight weather permitting, closer to dawn if traffic was backed up or if there was a storm or accident. Every Friday night, the children brought their sleeping bags, toys, storybooks, school papers, and “gifts” down into our living room and spread everything out on the floor. They watched the clock and each one promised to wake the other should they accidentally fall asleep during their vigil. The children knew their Dad would be too tired to make it up the stairs to his bedroom when he came home. So, they brought his pillow, blankets, slippers, and robe down into the living room and arranged them carefully on his favorite chair. All day Saturday was one huge sleepover in our living room as we just relaxed and talked.
My parents and siblings missed seeing their grandchildren, nieces and nephews during the year, so special effort was made to come to Maine to visit us during the summer for a week or longer and for several days during a holiday. The children were studying Maine history in school the first year we were here, so they were excellent tour guides while we took day trips to show family the various landmarks and attractions. They all enjoyed being just 45 minutes from Bar Harbor. Living here, I knew the best beaches to go to, and when each surrounding town was having an auction or “concert on the green”. My folks especially enjoyed these. It was always an intimate, concentrated, quality time together and that was what mattered the most.
Over the years, my husband and I have worked on this house together making it our home. Where we once before rented or lived in military base housing, we were never permitted to so much as change the color of the walls or add a nail for a picture. We have customized this home to reflect our hobbies and talents. I have my paintings hanging in every room.
The children have all grown up and gone to live their own lives now. My husband and I now bring the comforters into the living room to sit and relax and wait. One by one the calls come in. Alabama checks in, followed by New York. A call beeps in and we say “Good-by “ to Connecticut and continue talking with Virginia. Bucksport calls in to tell us we have been on the phone all night and our answering machine is full. Levant calls a few minutes later. There will be a lull for three hours, so I call my parents to ask them when would they like to come “up country“ again? After our conversation, I pick up a book and begin reading. When the phone rings again, a sweet voice on the other end of the line says, ”Hello Grandma”, and I am talking to Arizona.
It will be shortly after midnight by now, and I look at my husband all wrapped up in his comforter sitting in his favorite chair and I say, “Looking back, I would not have changed a thing.” He is too tired to respond, but the smile across his face tells me he is listening and agrees.