My mother bought the home where I grew up based on the wallpaper in the upstairs bathroom. It was her deciding factor. The school district was one of the best, yes, but really, she loved the red wallpaper. I loved playing Barbies in that basement, on blue carpeting while the cleaning lady hung clothes to dry, pulling them in handfuls from the washer. There was a piano there, eventually, moved down from the living room when my mother had it re-done. Something in the house was always being re-done. Except for the wallpaper in my bathroom. That stayed, and after she moved out, many years later, when I was away in college, the wallpaper sagged and began to peel off the wall. It smelled like mildew. My father didn’t care. “Who’s looking?” He no longer lives there, either. I wish I had a photograph of the wallpaper. I’d track it down and have it installed in my new home, the one I’m searching for now.
“Wow factor.” It’s what The Suitor told the real estate agent via email. “Whatever you show us, there has to be a wow factor, something, the view, the state of the art kitchen (complete with bread-warmer, wine fridge, and espresso station), something that makes me say, ‘wow.'” For my mother it was wallpaper, which is absurd, but maybe it felt like a soft sign of comfort to her. For me, the musts are many. When my mother picked me up from a play-date, she’d remark on how beautiful the kitchen was. When we got in the car, just she and I, she’d exhale, “what a shame. The woman doesn’t even know how to cook! She’s got a kitchen like that and probably never uses it, aside from melting fat-free cheese on a hollowed out bagel in her microwave.” My mother cooked dinner every weekday evening. I grew up watching her. I want that life, too, except I want the commercial kitchen with the warming drawer and wok station. An indoor grille and a range big enough to accomodate a paella pan. I don’t just need to get a room; I need to get a kitchen.
A commercial range (with restaurant-style top broiler) with a built-in ventilation system and an outdoor pool. I’m a water person, and while I pretty much hate all exercise, save for tennis and sex, I make room for anything on the water. I spent all the summers of my life swimming, and I feel happy there, with the ability to get wet in something other than humidity. I’d love an outdoor shower. Love. I’d never leave, unless it wasn’t kept properly. Big bugs, webs, random wings just won’t fly. Kitchens can be gutted, pools can be built, but I want no part of that yet. I want to start with something I can live with, as is. I want to be able to write by the pool, with a glass of wine. Shrimp and octopus salad marinating. The drawer in the fridge that keeps butter spreadable. These things seem luxurious to me. I don’t need a hot tub. I like the idea of a very spacious family room, very high ceilings. I want to walk in and feel like breathing, deeply. I also want a media room built like a movie theatre. But I can certainly live without all of this. As I have for the whole of my life. It’s just a dream of wow.