23: Meant to Be

23: Meant to Be

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

Meant to Be

He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“I’m sorry,” said my landlord, as he pounded a stake with a For Sale sign on it into my front yard. “I haven’t gotten a lot of construction jobs this winter, and I have to sell this property to make ends meet.”

He looked genuinely apologetic. “When it sells, I’ll help you move.”

It was a small consolation, but I accepted his offer.

Looking back, awaking that Sunday morning to the sound of my small rental home being put on the market was probably the best thing that could have happened to me.

For years I’d been saving up, putting a little money away in a special account each month from my teaching salary, anticipating the day I’d find the perfect home.

I dug out my list of thirty-five things I wanted in my dream house. Years before, I’d doodled what I thought was a pretty good floor plan for a perfect home during a rather dull school board meeting. I found that drawing also among my saved papers.

“Sharon,” I said, calling up a local real estate agent I knew personally, “it’s time I looked for a house of my own.”

“Oh boy!” she exclaimed. “Can’t wait! Do you know what you’re looking for?”

She was silent while I read her my entire thirty-five-point list.

“And where are you going to find this home?”

“I thought that was your job.”

She laughed. “I mean, in what area of the peninsula shall we start looking?”

Times, as my landlord had noted, were certainly tough, and it seemed like every other house on the entire southwest Washington coast was up for sale. But I hadn’t given much thought to which end of the peninsula I wanted to live on.

“I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

I spent the next couple of days driving around, checking out different towns, making notes, figuring what I’d spend on commuting to work, how far it was to a grocery store, etc. Finally, I had my target area narrowed down to a radius of seven miles from my school.

The following Sunday I went out looking for any interesting home with a For Sale sign within my arbitrary boundaries. There was only one home, tucked down a driveway a little way off the road, which seemed to call to me. I’d driven by the sign many times, but previously had not gone down the gravel drive to check it out.

“Sharon, can you get me into a house with someone else’s realty sign in the yard?”

“Of course. Just tell me the address and we’ll go see it today.”

It had been raining all week, and I huddled underneath the short porch roof as Sharon unlocked the door.

“It’s been empty all winter,” she explained, “but the heat’s been turned on low to keep things from mildewing.”

“Funniest thing,” I told her as we stepped inside, “I sketched the front of a house on my wish list that looked just like this one. It had a high peaked window in the front, and the attached double garage, and everything.”

She smiled. “Did you bring your list?”

“Right here.” I waved my paper at her.

I walked briefly down the hallway to the bedrooms, back through the utility room and kitchen, popped my head into the rec room and then sat down on the two carpeted steps leading to the sunken living room without saying a word.

“So…” Sharon said softly, “what do you think?”

“I think the Christmas tree goes right there.” I motioned to the tall peaked windows facing us. “This house has the exact floor plan I sketched, and thirty-two of the thirty-five things on my wish list. Walking through this house was like coming home.”

Sharon smiled. She got out her pencil, opened her file folder and started crunching the numbers. “You’ll be able to assume the loan on this house at the current rate if you have enough saved for the down payment.”

I tentatively returned her smile. “How much do I need?”

She handed me her notepad. The circled number was about a hundred dollars less than I had in my special “Someday I’m Going to Buy a House” savings account. My grin took over my entire face.

Together we figured out what the payments would be, and my dream house became a reality. That was twenty-seven years ago, the house is now paid for, and I’ve never even missed those last three things on my wish list.

And yes, every year, the Christmas tree goes right there, exactly where I planned it on that rainy Sunday afternoon in February, way back then.

Some things are just meant to be.

~Jan Bono

More stories from our partners