Friday, May 6, 2011

Love at First Sight: the Gilbertsville Story

This is a story about patience, and intention, and why it's important to have faith in serendipity. I wanted to take time to reflect, and write it all down, to remember. So here it is.

I'd been dreaming of a place for a long time. I grew up on seventeen acres-- four barns, a brook, hay fields and forests-- an 1857 farmhouse with wide pine floors upstairs and stories in every room. I've been writing love letters back there ever since I left, and getting misty-eyed over folk songs about old houses, (this is one such song, though the pictures aren't of the house I grew up in!) and wishing and yearning and hoping and (somehow) knowing I'd find a place of my own like that someday. A place to raise the kind of kids who'd get misty-eyed over folk songs about old houses.

When I fell in love with Patrick, we began dreaming together. Though we were settled and happy in Binghamton, always we were thinking of the next place. We transitioned from dating to married, from giddy twenty-somethings to real adults, from awkward to synchronized in our Binghamton house. But on weekends, we would escape. We'd drive around and discover new towns, interesting towns. Sometimes we'd be wooed-- we'd drive home and punch numbers into real estate websites, trying to match our dreams with a house we could actually afford. We continued in this frustrating pattern for a couple of years.

And then we met Gilbertsville. The town is equidistant between where I grew up and where Patrick grew up--45 minutes each way-- and with all the living and driving and exploring we'd done in the area, it's unbelievable how long it took us to stumble upon it. It was not our destination that day, but, as we drove through our eyes snagged on the striking architecture, the quaint downtown, the beautiful clapboarded houses, and-- was that one for sale? We turned around. We drove through again. We pursed lips and raised eyebrows.

It took Patrick about ten minutes to get from parked car to, upon arriving home in Binghamton. Five minutes later, he uttered the auspicious words that would launch this little journey on its way, and they were:

"Hey, that gray one is only a hundred thousand!"

Maybe not the most auspicious words in history, okay. A week later, we came back for a showing. We also walked around a couple other "fixer uppers" in town, including one with huge poofs of black mildew on the bedroom ceiling, and one with a spectacularly bulging foundation-- both more expensive --and decided, reasonably, that the gray one was the way to go. Add to that the fact that Gilbertsville isn't exactly a booming housing market, (especially for fixer-uppers; most folks who buy in town want a nice summer home that's move-in ready) and that the house had been for sale for nine months already, and we walked away with what I like to think of as the best deal this side of the Louisiana Purchase.

It's important to travel those less-familiar roads sometimes, and important to keep that faith in serendipity. Sometimes, when you least expect it, your future home will show up some dewy May morning, just waiting to take you in.

I'll be posting a photo tour of town sometime in the next couple of weeks, but for now, here's an excellent video tour from a local tv program.

So, there you have it. I don't want to jinx us, but from where I stand it's looking like we're down to our last week. If there ever was a time to pause and reflect, it is now. Thanks for reading.



thestoryofkat said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, I'm so glad to have visited yours now too! I too grew up on a small family farm with a rickety old house on 12 acres in Michigan and one of my biggest dreams is to restore an old house that needs me as much as I need it :) loved reading this post and look forward to hearing more!

Kristina Strain said...

You sound like you "get it." Glad you found my little blog!

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