Ever since I was a little girl, I used to pretend houses that didn’t belong to me were, indeed, my home. The first house I coveted was the grand farm house belonging to the landlord of the farm we lived and rented on. Gabled, with a wrap-around covered porch, drawing rooms and fireplaces, a bright sunny kitchen and a cozy dark paneled study. I was in this house only once, and it grabbed at my imagination, made me yearn for something that was, and never could be, mine.
As an adult, this fascination with abodes that weren’t mine found an acceptable outlet: Frequenting real estate open houses. The ultimate opportunity to observe another’s home, decor, way of life…and an opportunity to daydream about inhabiting these rooms, the changes I would make, and what would stay exactly the same. It was a fun exercise, a good way to pass the time on lazy Sunday afternoons.
Today, while shooting the Catskill landscape for an online magazine Upstate Dispatch that I am a contributor for; after over a year of being satisfyingly settled in a cabin on the side of a mountain, I once again, found myself fantasizing…about a house that was not my own.
*the above house is not the house discovered today…that is a secret not to be revealed at this time.
This was not just a house. It was a moderately sized, stone front cottage, at the top of a dead end road, with a view that was anything but dead. With a view that forced me to inhale, made me feel alive with the beauty that even if I shut my eyes, would be imprinted on my brain.
I had discovered the perfect property. Uninhabited, with grass that had gone to seed, and tall proud spikes of the mullein plant, and dried teasel blooms, sharp and eager on the border. Mature apple trees, and maple trees, all in groupings of three. Despite their lack of recent care, whoever had planted them so long ago had done so with intention. And above the cottage, a little further up the drive, an amazingly in-tact barn.
And a pond. The perfect circle of water. A crooked bench beckoned to me, but this was my first visit, I was worried about being overly intrusive, so I resisted the urge to plant myself on the edge of the water and disappear in the tall grasses that swayed so carelessly with the last breezes of summer.
Peering in the windows (How could I not?) was not a disappointment. Empty, but clean, with an “updated” kitchen and a wood stove and french doors separating two downstairs rooms. There was a curved stair case that led to a cozy attic bedroom where romance and babies and sleep promised to dwell.
The inexplicable feeling of longing, of belonging, that accompanied this property was disconcerting, as if I had been there before. I often feel this way about abandoned homes, that are left alone at the best, but more often then not, discarded and disregarded in a state of irreparable damage. I wonder of the living and dying that happened in that house, and in this way, the old homes haunt me, no matter what time of year.
Visiting these properties is a pastime I relish, especially in these mountains, where one can climb a mountain road, and breathe in a view of the world on some lost and forgotten property. All the while, staying completely out of view from the world.