Life Not Included
It's been a weird day. I quit my day job, which has been a ten-year goal. I should feel a giant sense of relief and excitement. But I don't. I just feel lost.
My last remaining grandparent, my grandfather, who was 93, died. He has been sick for several years, so sick that he didn't recognize us for over a year. He weighed 100 pounds. I thought I would feel relieved, but instead, I just feel empty.
My grandfather was a hardware man. He met my grandmother, at age 20, while working in a hardware store. Then, he bought a hardware store of his own, which he ran for many years. He had sold his store and retired by the time I came along so I never saw the store, but I can imagine him working there. My mother has the bell that rung when customers came through the door. Since I was a child I have pictured him, behind a wood and glass counter, tall and movie-star handsome with his wavy blond hair, polishing a brass doorknob in his hands while a cigar hangs from his lips (He always had a cigar, and he called women and children, "Toots."), looking up as that bell rings and a customer enters. It is a scene that I could not possibly have witnessed, yet I can see it all. After he retired, my grandfather moved his favorite things from the hardware store to his garage, which then looked a lot like the interior of a hardware store, little mysterious metal things in small boxes and cubbies alongside strange, greasy, dangerous, heavy things.
Three or four years ago, my grandfather decided to move into a nursing home. He moved into a room just big enough for a twin bed, dresser, and lounge chair. He cheerfully gave away everything from his bedroom furniture to his dishes to the towels in his bathroom and, of course, his garage-full of hardware. I wondered how he would feel without his tools. We worried that he would miss his own home and his car. Instead he blossomed. I had never heard him talk about the people who were around him, only about the past and about fixing things or tools and suddenly he was telling long stories and gossiping about his neighbors. He laughed constantly and left no room for interruption. He seemed happy.
For most of his life, the hardware store defined my grandfather. He sold hardware. That was who he was. Then at the very end of his life, he embraced it and the people around him and gave up on the hardware altogether.
The way my grandfather lived his life seems important on the day that I have decided to make such a major change in my own life. I have always envied people who set the course for their lives and stick to it, but maybe that isn't so important. Maybe satisfaction comes from enjoying whatever it is that comes to you for whatever reason. The moral of the story: even when we think we know what will happen next, we don't know how we will respond, so perhaps we should take it as it comes.
This little bit of Oprah-esqe pop philosophy applies to where we live as well: in the same way a career can define a person, so can a house.
If I tell you a person lives in a converted loft on Main Street you get the picture of a guy who plays in a band, dot-coms, and wakes up at noon. Whereas if I introduce you to the Hartland homeowner it is easy to assume she plays tennis, Jazzersizes, and shops at Sloan's. So what happens when a local boy who has made it as a big-city lawyer wants to move his family home? He heads straight for Chevy Chase, the quintessential family neighborhood. With everything a family could need within a couple of blocks (Cassidy Elementary, Morton Middle School, Kroger, Rite-Aid, three dry-cleaners, two movie rental stores, and several restaurants) Chevy Chase is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Lexington (and incidentally a mecca for all post-80s preppies). The problem came for our boy when business just wasn't the same here as in the big city so he headed back-leaving a charming white-washed Cape Cod cottage that waits to fulfill the dreams (or whatever) of the next occupants.
2100 Square Feet
3 bedrooms, 2 baths
Contact Ann Hollingsworth 294-2469
If you have a unique or interesting house for sale contact Lissa Sims at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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