Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One Last Weekend

As of today, we are renting the South Haven house. Again. The house has been on the market for almost five years now. The first, we lived in it while hoping it would sell. The second, it sat empty. Then we rented it twice, first to a family for a whole year, then to a friend of ours who was going through a divorce and needed a place for the summer. Last summer, we used it as a "cottage," and this past weekend, we did that again, possibly for the last time. When we pulled the front door shut until the lock clicked yesterday, we knew we might never sleep in it again.

Our friend - the one who went through the divorce two years ago - is renting the house for the next year, with an option to buy it at the end of 12 months for a pre-agreed-upon price, with a portion of the lease money going to the sale price. We'll see if that happens or not (we're not holding our breath, at this point); but either way, we won't be using it any more this summer, and we've given our permission for bathroom tile to be laid and woodwork to be painted, so the house won't look the same next summer, no matter what.

Truthfully, we had such an amazingly wonderful weekend there last weekend that a tiny part of me - the economically-challenged part, apparently - is secretly wishing that we'll get it back next June first. What if, I think, instead of losing money on the sale, we put that money into the house (new roof, some cute-but-cheap furniture, cottage-y paint colors and prints on the walls) and committed to really using it for the next five or ten years? The girls love it there. They don't care that it's mattresses on the floor, camp chairs on the deck, plastic and paper dinner utensils and a lot of take-out food. They love tracking sand everywhere, swinging in the backyard, blowing bubbles on the deck while we drink our morning coffee, driving two minutes to the beach, getting ice cream every day.

I love it, too. I'm sad to say good-bye to the house where Annie was born and where we've had such simple fun with them these last two summers. This weekend, we had three perfect, sunny days in a row and we filled each one with as much summer fun as possible: coloring at the breakfast table; 80's dance party; playing at the park; splashing and digging and flying a kite at the beach; the relief of a grape slushie at 3:30 in the afternoon, when you've been in the hot sun for hours; watching a movie all together on the biggest mattress after we've cooled down and gotten the sand off in the tub; driving to Redamak's for the best burgers and fries; eating on the back deck; pushing them on the swingset; eating ice cream while we walk along the shore; reading, talking and drinking a beer on the deck after the girls fell asleep. When we're there, we're forced to step away from Real Life for a few days. There's no phone, no TV, no schedule. We slow down and focus on each other.

A year from now, we'll either be signing closing papers and bidding an old house good-bye or exploring the possibilities of keeping it for at least a little longer. Either way, it'll be okay with me.

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