26: In My Dreams

26: In My Dreams

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

In My Dreams

The road leading to a goal does not separate you from the destination; it is essentially a part of it.

~Charles DeLint

When we lived in the city, we had one car and two small children. We would pile into the car at daybreak and drive Daddy to work on days when I needed the car for errands. The children were often cranky early in the morning, but the one pleasant part of the drive was looking at the pretty suburban homes we passed. There was one particular block along the main street where giant maple trees towered over ranch-style houses. I fell in love with a gray house with brick veneer and a big picture window. It had a large front yard with two maple trees that made me gasp in awe in the fall. Directly across the street was a working truck farm tended by two gentlemen farmers who were always out in the field. I longed for that house and that neighborhood. I would tell myself, “In your dreams!”

We eventually moved from our city apartment, and bought a second car and an affordable, small house where we reared our children. Whenever I drove past that house in the suburbs, I imagined myself sitting on the front porch, decorating the interior, hanging wreaths on the front door for every holiday. In my dreams!

Life went on, the kids grew up. I divorced, remarried, and relocated to my new husband’s condo. Every day, on my way to and from work, I passed that house. One day I noticed a “For Sale” sign in the front yard. I dialed the number. My heart sank when I heard the asking price. It sank even further when the “For Sale” sign was removed.

A year later my husband and I decided to purchase a home. Our real estate agent showed us several houses within our price range. I liked something about every house we toured, and my husband found something wrong with each one. We were getting annoyed with one another; it was late in the evening and we were all worn out. The agent said, “I do have one more house in mind, but the original homeowner is elderly and it might be too late to show it. So, why don’t we set up an appointment for tomorrow?”

We explained that we were leaving for vacation in the morning. She called, and the owner agreed to show us her home. At dusk we followed the agent as she drove down that oh so familiar street. The farm was to our right and my dream home was to our left. I held my breath, trying not to get my hopes up. I had seen the “For Sale” sign go up again in the front yard two months before, and unbeknownst to my husband, I’d called and inquired. The price, which had been reduced twenty thousand dollars since the year before, was still twenty thousand dollars above our price range. I thought that the agent would turn into the subdivision just up ahead. Instead, she signaled a left turn into the driveway of my dream home. I gasped and told my husband, “Honey, I have longed for this house for twenty-five years.”

But I had to tell her: “I’m sorry but this house is out of our price range. I called about it recently.”

She replied, “The owner reduced the price again this week.”

I could hardly breathe. The porch light came on and illuminated the front of the house. I wanted to caress the gray siding, kiss the bricks, hug the real estate agent, and jump for joy. When the front door opened, I saw a hand and arm hold the door open for us. My immediate thought was that the arm looked like my beloved grandmother’s, who was long deceased. I looked into the eyes of a woman who looked just like my grandma and who was as dear.

The old lady welcomed us into her home, which smelled just like Grandma’s; the scent of Cashmere Bouquet powder and home cooking took me back to my childhood. My senses were alive, my heart was thumping, and my eyes scanned the photos of her greatgrandchildren displayed on the living room walls. According to the real estate agent we were still ten thousand dollars out of the ballpark. My husband and I conversed quietly and put a bid on the house; it was a low bid, and I knew the chances of it being accepted were slim. The agent told us that the woman was anxious to relocate to a retirement home.

“I’ll let you know as soon as you return from vacation,” she said. “I’ll call you next week.”

I’d waited all year for our Florida vacation. We walked my favorite beach; seagulls screeched overhead, the salty ocean breeze blew. But my mind was back home. As my feet sunk in the sand I imagined my feet sinking into the carpeting of my dream home. The sweet powdery smell of that ranch house overpowered the salty sea air and lingered. Instead of the seagulls’ calls, I heard the elderly homeowner’s voice in my ear: “I like you folks; you’d make nice neighbors for my neighbors.” I hung a prayer on every breeze that whipped my hair.

When we returned home, the agent called to say our bid had been accepted. I whooped and hollered. For the past fifteen years, I have flung open my front door and inhaled the earthy scents that drift across the street from the farm. I hear horns honking all day at the gentlemen who have worked the land for decades and provided produce and joy to passing motorists.

My husband has mowed our lawn, grown a garden that rivals the farmers’, raked leaves and shoveled snow off the drive. I’ve decorated my dream home, hung our own family pictures on the walls and decorated the front door with seasonal wreaths. We have chased nine grandchildren across the large front lawn and photographed them in the crook of those magnificent trees. I wake every morning with a prayer on my lips, “Thank You! In my dreams, indeed.”

~Linda O’Connell

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