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We could live at Rosslyn

In Champlain Valley, Memoir, What's the story? on June 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm
We could live at Rosslyn

We could live at Rosslyn

“We could live at Rosslyn,” I said.

“What?” Susan sounded startled. “You mean buy Rosslyn and live there?”

“Why not? If we lived here, if it were going to be our home instead of just an investment, maybe we could justify buying it.”

We had joked about how much time and money it would take to make Rosslyn habitable, categorically dismissing it as an investment. And yet it clearly had captured our hearts. If it were our home and not a short term investment, then maybe the criteria were different. Maybe the potential was different. Maybe the risk was different.

“Will you be relocating here full-time?” a realtor had asked a month or two ago while showing us a house.

“Uh, maybe, yes, we’d like to,” Susan had lied, glancing at me awkwardly. Some locals disliked out-of-towners buying, renovating and reselling, so we kept quiet about our plans to do so. Our hearts sank.

“Are you serious? Would you really want to live at Rosslyn?” Susan persisted.

I was unclear whether she was horrified or excited. I had made the suggestion spontaneously, without forethought, and now I felt embarrassed. I knew the idea was absurd. We both knew it made no sense at all. And yet we had returned to see the house again that morning. A second visit to a house we had already decided not to buy. Why? It exerted an inexplicable pull on both of us. It had awakened our imaginations, our fantasies, our hopes.

“No. And yes,” I said, hedging. “No, I’m not really serious. I just suggested it off the cuff. It’s probably the stupidest idea ever, or at least the least serious idea ever. But yes, there is a side of me that would love to live at Rosslyn. I’ve felt it each time we’ve visited the house. I’m not sure I can explain it…”

“You don’t need to,” Susan said. She was beaming. “I agree.” She rose out of the bath and wrapped a towel around her broad shoulders. “What a dream it would be, to live in that grand old home!”

“Really?” A wave of relief and excitement rushed over me. What a dream indeed. I stood and wrapped my arms around Susan as we drowned each other out, pent up monologues bursting out. We sounded manic as we catalogued our dreams. Waterskiing from Rosslyn’s pier still visible in photographs from the mid-1980’s. Awakening in the yellow bedroom brimming with sunlight. Entertaining our families in the evening amidst mingling aromas of arborvitae and grilling hamburgers. Eating cheese fondue next to a crackling fireplace with friends after a day of downhill skiing. Watching the Fourth of July parade from the front steps with our nephews, still fascinated with fire engines, antique tractors and costumed clowns. Recalibrating our urban rhythm to the comings and goings of the Essex-Charlotte ferry. A pair of effervescent hummingbirds flitting from blossom to blossom in the flowerbeds that we would coax back to life. Puttering around in the carriage barn on Sunday afternoons. Tossing bocce balls in the side yard while nursing gin and tonics and watching Vermont’s Green Mountains slide into pastels, then monochromes, then memories.

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Almost Logical

In Memoir, What's the story? on June 10, 2011 at 9:35 am
What if? Wondering what life would be like living full-time in the Champlain Valley...

What if? Wondering what life would be like living full-time in the Champlain Valley...

Within minutes we were tripping over each other, drunk with excitement, imagining one whimsical “What if…” scenario after another. No filter, no caution. Our reveries flitted from one idyllic snapshot to another.

“What if I finally sat down and finished my novel?” After dawdling self indulgently for a dozen years – writing, rewriting, discarding, rewriting, shuffling, reinventing – my novel had evolved from failed poetry collection to short story collection to novel to a tangle of interconnecting narratives that loosely paralleled my life since graduating from college. Too much evolution. Too little focus. But what if I made time to sit down and knock it out? Reboot. Start over. Find the story. Write it down. Move on.

“What if you weren’t sitting in front of your computer all day? Every day?” Susan asked, returning to a common theme. “What if you went outside and played with Tasha? Took her swimming or hiking or skiing every day?”

“What if all three of us went swimming or hiking or skiing every day? What if Tasha and I went jogging along Lakeshore Road instead of the East River?”

We could waterski and windsurf for half the year instead of just two or three months, starting in May with drysuits and finishing in the end of October. We could sail the Hobie Cat more instead of letting it collect spider webs on the Rock Harbor beach. I could fly fish the Boquet and Ausable Rivers in the afternoon while Tasha snoozed on the bank. We could join Essex Farm, the local CSA, supporting a local startup while eating healthy, locally grown and raised food. I could grow my own vegetable garden, an herb garden, an orchard. Susan could work for an architecture firm in Burlington and volunteer at the animal shelter. We could buy season passes to Whiteface and downhill ski several days a week. We could cross country ski and snowshoe and bike and rollerblade and kayak and canoe and hike, and maybe I would start rock climbing again. And how much more smoothly the Lapine House renovation would be if we were on-site every day answering questions, catching mistakes before it was too late.

“I could interview candidates for Hamilton!” Susan said. She had recently become an alumni trustee for her alma mater, and her already high enthusiasm had skyrocketed. She had become a walking-talking billboard for the college. “You know how much more valuable it would be to interview candidates up here? There are tons of alumni interviewers in Manhattan, but in Westport? In Essex? In Elizabethtown?”

Suspended in lukewarm bathwater, our collective brainstorm leap frogging forward, it all started to make a strange sort of sense, to seem almost logical.

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