A Family Affair

As she sat in my lap last night my almost three-year-old said, "I want to go home." Since we were sitting in our living room I had to say, "But we are home." She looked at me sheepishly as though she knew it was immature and impossible but, she couldn't help herself, and said, "I mean, I want to go home to Park Avenue."

Now, we haven't lived on Park Avenue in exactly, to the week, one year, and while she talks about the house occasionally, she has never mentioned going back there, until tonight.

I know exactly how she feels because I have been thinking the same thing all day, which is why I got the shivers when she said it. We have had encounters before such as when I have thought to offer her water and she has said, "No, I want milk," before the words actually came out of my mouth. I always attributed that to coincidence or her brilliance in realizing that it is just so obvious that when there is a peanut butter sandwich offered a drink is sure to follow.

I had visited the Lange's house on Old Lafayette (without my daughter) and it reminded me so much of that house on Park Avenue.

We bought our house from people who had rented it mostly to students. The house was in rough shape so before we moved in we gutted it. Our friends, family, and my husband and I worked relentlessly, going straight to the house from our jobs to work until one or two in the morning every single night for 2 months. I am so proud of what we made - that tiny cottage has Italian tile floors and maple countertops, a walk-in closet and wool sisal carpet.

I sensed the same pride in Steve Lange as he described the recessed lighting he installed in the kitchen of the house he and his wife renovated and then occupied for two years.

Unlike larger houses where a room's use is clearly designated by its place in the house or access to bathroom and closets, these cottages are designed so that the rooms can be used any number of ways. Since there are no hallways and virtually no closets it becomes a matter of how the light hits or where there is less noise in deciding which rooms to use as bedrooms.

When they moved in, the Lange's used one of the front rooms as their bedroom but they eventually added a second-story master bedroom suite and gave the front bedroom to their daughter.

We chose to use the room in the heart of the house as our bedroom. Four doors opened into its tiny 13x13 space. Our bed sat in the middle of the room and from it one could see out to the street and into most of the rooms in the house. The day my daughter came home from the hospital we set up camp there. I have a picture of me, my husband, my three sisters, my brother and the baby all in the bed on the day we brought her home. I conducted most of my business from that bed. We ate breakfast there, read the newspaper together. I wrote, talked on the phone, paid bills and of course, did whatever sleeping I could there, all with her right beside me.

We were, at all times, very close to each other. If my husband crept into the kitchen for a midnight snack he was only about 10 feet from my head so I would wake up before he finished unscrewing the peanut butter jar. When we didn't make the bed the whole house looked a mess. The Lange's solved this problem by building an addition - we moved.

Now the very thing that was so troubling about our house on Park Avenue - our inability to get away from each other - provides my sweetest memories.

I would like to think that my daughter has the ability to read minds but the truth is that we are both sick, we have colds, so we are both longing for something to make us feel better. For the longest time, whenever I wasn't feeling well, I would lie under the comforter quaking, thinking that if my mother would just come everything would be fine. A few months ago I was sick and my mother came to my house. There she was offering me tissues and tea and I still had that I-want-my-mommy feeling. I suspect that is what my daughter and I are feeling about our house on Park Avenue - that everything would be just perfect if we were back in that bed, all cuddled up, taking a nap.


143 Old Lafayette


1700 square feet

3 bedrooms; 2 baths

Contact Steve Lange 226-0132

If you have a unique or interesting house for sale contact Lissa Sims at lsims@aceweekly.com.