I am convinced if it were not for the young and verifiably insane, we would accomplish little in our world; however, if it were not for the wisdom of the mature, the young wouldn’t live long enough to enjoy the reward of their zeal.
A long, long time ago when inspiration struck, I began a series titled “My Dream House.” Many of you probably thought my dream ended when a rambunctious realtor encouraged my husband and I to dance around the closing table naked; however, I continued to dream. In fact, my dream blossomed when warmed with the sweat of hard work and watered with the tears of frustration.
Today, as hearts are breaking and a country is grieving, I will continue to share my dream. My soul is heavy with thoughts and prayers for the people of Japan. I want to share in their sorrow and one day rejoice with them as they rebuild their lives.
But for today, I’ll travel back to my early days of marriage – days consumed with our dream.
Because someone had to finance our dream house, my husband and I worked as many hours overtime as possible. John did electrical work that took him all over Westchester County, NYC, and Connecticut. I worked at a nuclear power plant. We were workhorses until Friday night when we became racehorses, speeding our way up to Maine, only to return dirty and tired Sunday night.
Our neighbors kept watch over our house by night. By day every person living within a five mile radius knew exactly what was going on in and out of our house. News in our town traveled faster than CNN correspondents. By the time we went from the closing table to the front door, our neighbors already knew our basic life history, family tree, and probably our social security numbers.
Sadly I now realize they also identify my birthmark. You see, I thought our house was in the wilderness. Compared to the city, it was; however, we did have a neighbor directly across the street and one at either end of our field. My city naiveté convinced me that no-one really lived in those houses buried under more snow than they have in the North Pole, not in the winter anyway.
So I hopped into the back seat and changed out of my house buying clothes and into my work clothes. Our new house was so filthy, I didn’t want to mess up my nice clothes. Unfortunately I was under the watchful gaze of one moose and at least two neighbors, Mrs. Cravitz included.
About ninety seconds into our home renovation, Mrs. Cravitz poked her head in the front door and said to my husband, “So I hear your dad was a dairy farmer?”
John and I were in two different room, but our eyes quickly found each other. Till today he can still hear the thinking look in my eyes, “How did she know that!”
During those early days of dreaming and working, I learned a lot about small town life in a America.
I learned you leave your doors open and people may snoop, but they won’t touch.
I learned the UPS man will leave your package on the kitchen table when you’re not home.
I learned there are no secrets in life.
I learned a small town will sometimes watch you, often laugh at you, but will always come to pull your rusty clunk of a car out of a snow drift.
I learned that chickens sense property lines.
I learned that people were born in my house, died in my house, and loved it long before I was born.
I learned to respect history and to avoid family feuds.
I learned life does have a slow pace.
And one dark night after a long day of work, John and I learned that neighbors look out for you. After each putting in several hours of overtime, we met somewhere for dinner and headed home to relax in the last few minutes of the day. We didn’t expect a phone call from Maine.
In the days before voicemail, I rarely checked my answering machine. John checks. He’s always waiting for news, wanting to know what he missed.
After the beep, a heavily accented New England voice tore into our New York apartment.
“Uhm, Hi John and Trish. I’m calling because, well, something happened to your house. Call me.”
Silence stretched to Maine and back.
We sank to floor, afraid to hear.