An open letter to the lovely people who showed us a perfectly delightful small home on their vast acreage somewhere in the foothills upstate somewhere.
Dear John and Leslie,
When we saw the ad for the two bedroom secluded house in the woods on craigslist, we planned a day around going to check it out. We’ve lived downstate, here in the city, for a really really long time, seems longer every day, and the idea of fresh air, quiet, and trees made our hearts leap. We piled in the car, the taste of a new beginning delighting the collective taste buds of our three person family.
We drove up, and it was far, and you showed us around the property, and the small house. Everything about it is perfect. The front yard is a wide clearing of trees with a swimmable, algae-free pond. The cantilevered back deck possesses a serenity that I’d previously only experienced at my aunt’s woods house, from her back deck, with no cell service, and infrequent car traffic, or my mom’s shore house, the waves crashing loud like thunder. Leaning over the rail and looking out I could almost see the babbling brook whose babble filled my ears. The smell of the tall pines was invigorating, and I felt my pulse shift, felt new pathways forge in my mind.
You showed us around, and it was easy to see what you loved about this place, why you’d chosen to raise your family here. Your last tenants, you said, were an immigrant family from Colombia who had stayed on this woodsy hilltop for over 15 years, raising their two daughters here, hosting family from far away, sitting up late and talking and laughing together. You celebrated holidays together, and when they left, their daughters having gone off to college, you decided you wanted another family in this home. You thought we looked like a good match. We felt that too. John, you even grew up in the same neighborhood in Bk where we live now.
We left this hermetic perfection late that afternoon with every intention of moving up north, and we told you so, we even set a date, and talked of deposits and snow removal and trash day and bike storage and things. In my mind I had it all planned out. I envisioned myself, in the morning, walking down that curling driveway to the main road, my son, growing strong with the outdoor air, running along ahead. We’d wait for the school bus, he’d wave goodbye through the window, and I’d walk up the hill again, set the kettle, take up my work and write, with none of the distractions that abound here in Brooklyn.
I had it all planned. I told people we were moving. I put the brakes on new opportunities I had fought to get. I gave things up, because I had it all planned, and it would be better. We were going to live in a better way. I knew we were doing this. I knew it for real and my heart leaped, I felt free, I felt floating, I felt breathing.
Just as I wept when we decided to go, the City having been my home for so long, I wept when we decided to stay. I was ready to give it up.
I can’t let go of this house in the woods, the sound of the splashing stream, the vision of the snowy clearing, this house of my heart. Even now, we’ve signed a new lease, we’re moving from our small two-bedroom apartment into a larger two-bedroom apartment. This one with a patio in back, that is ours alone. Our family is healing from things, and of that I am glad, that might not have happened had we tore up our roots from between the sidewalk cracks and bolted for the hills. I look forward to the patio, to sitting outdoors at nightfall. I look forward to getting some big planters and growing up my own tall pines.
But still, woods house, perfect little woods house, with no noise, and no people, and no barriers to my inner thoughts, I miss you. I close my eyes, I listen real hard for the sound of the brook at the base of the hill. Perhaps this is why people in cities buy small little fountains for their back patios.
Thanks so much for showing us your paradise. It would have been perfect.
All my love, Libby