The first serious buyer who came to visit the house expressed that an offer was forthcoming. Only it didn’t come forth to me but to another homeowner. I considered it one No closer to Yes. But I had hoped it would be them, because the showing became a big play date between all of us, the buyers, their agent and our children. They were comfortable in the home and it all just felt so right.
Later that week they let me know they had put an offer in on another home. A few days after that the woman sent me a link to an ad for an agent who was looking for a home just like mine. That was a very caring gesture. People were pulling for me to find the right buyer, and I was proactively following all their leads, talking with agents and prospective buyers from near and far, including a kind man who wanted to buy the home but couldn’t really afford to pay for it right now.
He wondered if there was something I could work out for him.
In this last year plus I have learned that there are lots of things I can do, but that request required not magic, but hocus pocus. Spells scare me. Dude, if I could make that happen for you, I’d make it happen for me.
Or would I?
No. Ever since that family came back with an offer in hand after their first choice fell through, I have been watching my creation unfold swiftly, with signs along the way that say, This is happening exactly as you’ve designed. Even if some of those signs have been stolen before I could read them.
The search was on for Casa Everest. The time had come to put expectations aside, and get really flipping optimistic. I had about 30 days to find a suitable home that would take a 90 pound dog and a shelter kitty that clearly had issues with a carpet weaver in his past life.
Is your cat litter trained?
Do you consider carpet to be litter?
Your dog doesn’t bark, does she?
Only at air.
I knew one thing for certain, this move was going to be a dramatic change to life as we know it. Optimism would make it palatable. A sense of adventure would provide the right tone for the boys, teaching them to embrace change rather than fear it. I imagined myself turning a dark, cramped home into a mysterious cave where we’d spin tales by candlelight, and I’d spin s…tuff into merriment.
It’s temporary. It’s an adventure. The words of the kittens wound like ribbons around my body making me feel strong and able. I can totally do this.
A week or so before I received the offer, I needed to head out to Stinson Beach with the dudes to pick up a package of goodies left for them by my brother who had been visiting for a few days. After we gathered the package, we walked down a lane to the beach, stopping at the tea cup sized playground for a bit. While the dudes climbed and slid, I stared up in the direction of the castle that had recently sold. My vision board house was destined not for me but for a collection of artists who would turn it into a retreat for creatives, a place to make magic.
Only a miracle would have made that quirky nest my own.
Dudes, why don’t we head to Bolinas and check it out?
In the nearly two years since we moved to Marin we had never ventured out the unmarked road to the coastal hamlet the New York Times describes as “the Howard Hughes of towns”. There used to be signs for Bolinas. Now they are tacked up on interior and exterior walls of the homes of the residents who tore them down. Finally, the county gave in.
No more signs for Bolinas.
It was hard to take it all in on that first drive out. After turning at a sign that announces, Entering a Socially Acknowledged Nature – Loving Town, we passed the farmer’s market – an honor system venture, the school, and a hardware and lumber store that I’m certain warrants an entire afternoon to peruse. Each tenth of a mile we clocked turned the clock back a decade in time until we came upon the heart of this village that seems to exist in a water bubble held in mermaid’s hand.
Like many western towns, the buildings of Bolinas snuggle right up to the street, which curves for no reason other than the fact that it hugs the end of land. We passed through town in the time it takes to skip a rock across a pond. The road narrowed and then without notice or fanfare, ended. Up ahead the tiny beach smiled at the Pacific, backed by golden cliffs that rose sharply. The dudes found a way to make it halfway up and like mountain goats they scampered across, then down and disappeared into a cluster of shrubs.
The tall dude emerged with a zippered case about 3 feet long.
Mom! What’s this?
My curiosity won out. We pulled hard on the zipper as sand fought to keep it closed. Inside slept a fishing rod in three pieces, with line and lures attached.
Honey, you need to put this back. It’s someone’s rod.
Stashing a fishing rod in the bushes. My kinda town.
The people who crisscrossed the street from the grocery to the saloon smiled at us as we made our way out of Bolinas that day. More of a ‘bye’ smile than a ‘hi’ smile. As in, we’re happy to see you go.
I knew I’d be back.
But I sure didn’t know it would be as a resident.
Later one night…or rather, early one morning, about 2, I finished a post and needed to wind down. Craigs List called. I answered. The day before I had found posted a cottage in Bolinas, near town, tiny but doable. When I emailed to inquire I received a response back saying that the ad had expired. It had been posted that day. Expired seemed a little strange for a post that had only been born a few hours earlier. West Marin was not looking promising, but before I turned my search east, I looked one more time to see if Bolinas had anything to offer. The same links for the same expired cottage appeared. My tired eyes scanned them…two bedroom, one bath…two bedroom, one bath…all the same…until I saw this:
Two bedroom, one bath near Bolinas.
The word ‘near’ didn’t appear in the other headlines for the cottage. This wasn’t the same one.
I clicked through. One sentence described a cottage with no flowery detail or salesy prose. Just, Two bedroom, one bath for rent, near Bolinas. The pictures showed a charming home. And one showed the view.
My heart raced. It looked toward Stinson Beach, and beyond that the coastal cliffs lined up one behind the other, black against layers of gray fog.
I emailed right then and got right to the point: When may I come see your home?
The dudes and I drove through the rain the next day, down a long lane named after my Mom, and pulled to a stop in front of a home so perfect for us that before I stepped foot inside I knew we’d be making memories here.
The cottage was built by a ginger haired daughter and her Dad, the man who greeted me with a wide smile and blue eyes that cut through the rain and fog like a lighthouse. He sensed I would be moving in with just the dudes.
I’m getting divorced. So, yes, it’s the three of us.
He sure made a mistake.
I closed my eyes briefly and my Observer Self and I smiled at each other.
Well, there is a single man in his forties that lives in the carriage house next door. I wanted to say, How very Woody Allen of you!
He opened the door to a small attic bedroom complete with wood burning stove and a pitched roof. Two tiny farmhouse windows looked out on the drive. Perched at the end of the circle was the carriage house. I saw a figure in the window.
We made our way back down the stairs and through the kitchen that was big enough to hold the table made from a Cypress tree my Dad had purchased just before he died. I thought I was going to have to store it, but this room was made for it.
I smelled something baking that the boys might enjoy as I left to meet you. Let’s walk up to the house and talk some more.
A pie had been cooling, conversation flowed. This handsome couple shared with me the magic of living on the mesa in Bolinas. Ponds for fishing, the Pt. Reyes Bird Observatory, endless trails, children for the dudes to meet. It was as if they had been waiting for us to arrive. The dudes finished the pie and ran outside, raincoats be damned. They flew down the lawn that flowed away from the house like a soft green bed sheet lifted by a gentle breeze.
Do you want to sleep on this, he asked?
In my head I said, I want to sleep here starting tonight.
If it’s alright with you I’d like to shake on it. Do you have any questions for me?
When are you able to move in? I’d prefer not to wait until March 1st, so how about February 15th.
And it was symbolic as well. February 15th will be the two year anniversary of the day we first stepped foot into Marin County as an intact family of four. On the 13th we closed on our house back east and, thanks to the generosity of my brother and sister-in-law, shared a couples massage thereafter.
Isn’t that cute…
The next day, Valentine’s Day, we departed for San Francisco. I thought that was symbolic, too. I was so close as to be completely off base.
We spent that evening in the city and the next morning drove to the town that would be the epicenter of the implosion of our marriage.
And now, two years later (I cannot believe that TWO YEARS have passed since I first became a resident of California!) I will cross the threshold of the most perfect place to begin anew.
After handshakes and gratitude I called the boys back to the house and we walked down the lane to our car, parked in front of our new home. The shadow in the window was still there. When he saw us he walked away and emerged from the front door. He was considerably younger than 40s, even 30s. A beautiful face with a warm smile. He introduced himself, extending his hand. He was helping the man who lives there with some work.
If I told you his name you would absolutely not believe me. At all. I can’t even hint at it, sadly, because this is a tiny little place and my aim is to not draw attention to anyone in it. So I hope it will suffice for me to say that should we sit across from each other one day and I share it with you, you will laugh right from the belly, your eyes twinkling with amusement, and then you’ll say,
What happened next?