Sunday, June 26, 2011
We looked at a bunch of houses before we started getting worried. There was the log cabin that had views of the nuclear reactor from the front porch. That wasn’t even the reason we rejected it. Though it was surrounded by beautiful farms with silos and fishing boats in the yards and reminded me of Misty of Chincoteague, and I love log cabins, the town itself was a ghetto. I’m talking gangland ghetto. Let’s put it this way. Even though I come from Jersey City, I was scared when we were in McDonald’s. Kelly would have to go to school with these kids. I bet all the farmers’ kids who were stuck between the ghetto and the bay where their families had crabbed or farmed for generations, were homeschooled, and the farm families were cringing at what grew up around them like weeds on the other side of a fence. I liked the house and the neighborhood so much, for a split second, I not only dismissed the nuclear reactor but I wondered if I could homeschool Kelly. Then I remembered that I don’t even know my times-tables so that was out.
There was the old stone house with the bathroom in the middle of the bedroom with a shower curtain that you pull around the toilet for privacy and all the plaster falling off the ceilings and walls in all the bedrooms upstairs, plus a kitchen that needed to be totally gutted. It had great acreage, even more than I have here, and we might have considered fixing it up if it wasn’t so overpriced.
There was the house on a busy road in a bad part of town that was too small and didn’t have enough acreage even if we didn’t care about living within walking distance of a check cashing place and a dollar store.
There was the house that the sellers refused to let anyone see.
There was the house next to the power lines. (It wouldn’t stop me. I don’t like it but power lines are a good place to ride—you can ride for miles and miles. But Kurt says no on the power lines.)
One possibility was the newer ranch house in pristine condition on twelve beautiful pasture acres that you could move right into. The house wasn’t old, like I wanted, but it was practical. My father would approve. It was a little small but it had a full basement, a den, and a Sub-Zero refrigerator. It had a carport for the dually and a fenced-in backyard for the dog. It was nice. But there’s always a downside to everything in our price range. It was on a busy road. Somewhat of a highway. A country highway. But a highway nonetheless. On the good side, you could have horse shows there. That’s something I was actually looking for—a place that would be conducive to having horse shows. It would help to pay the high New Jersey property taxes. It would even be a good place to build a warehouse for our flooring business. Tractor trailers would be able to access it. But it was also overpriced. They’d have to come down. We filed this away as a back-up house—something we’d buy just to get up there and maybe sell later if we couldn’t stand the road. Maybe it wouldn’t bother us. You never know. It’s not something we wanted to do, buy a back-up house—we’re tired and are sick of moving. But we had to find a house.
There was the house in historic Smithville. Smithville! Smithville is one of the reasons I want to move back to Jersey! Smithville is a little village of shops on cobblestone streets that sell gourmet coffees, homemade pies and chocolate, candles, antiques, pottery, lavender-scented lotions, homemade goat soap, I Love Lucy collectibles, restored Schwinn bicycles, incense, beads, rocks, shells, Violets candy and Bazooka gum, vintage toasters, movie posters, and wind chimes. It’s where I got my magic wand from.
I love Smithville! When we left New Jersey, I thought the whole Virginia was going to be like Smithville. But I haven’t found anything like that here. As soon as we moved back to Jersey, I was going to go to Smithville right away and get some chocolate-covered strawberries and maybe a piece of rose quartz for my rock collection. So I was excited when I realized the next house on the list was actually in Smithville!
The listing said “dry basement,” but this one had the wettest basement of them all. We actually might have considered it just for the location alone, but like most of them, it needed way too much work for what they were asking. Overpriced with a capital O.
We ruled out handyman specials in worse shape than the winery house, houses that needed to be burned down, houses on small acreage,
a house next to a gas station, a house that used to be a truck terminal, foreclosures and short sales (they take too long), and a house that was so far down at the bottom of New Jersey that I might as well stay in Virginia, that’s how long it would take me to run up to the family’s for a cup of coffee or to take my father to a doctor’s appointment.
We were worried.
And then we found the Alloway house.