The Big House

I wrote about the first house. And the second.

Now the third: Warsaw

My husband’s dad lives in a big old plantation house out in the country.

It’s big and white with black shutters. There are huge rooms with soaring ceilings. The house was built in the 1800s. If you look closely at the windows, you can see girl’s names written on them that they carved with their engagement rings.

It’s like something out of Faulkner. It has a smokehouse and an icehouse. Both of them, filled with old trash: busted tires, an old kiln, hammocks with holes in them, snakes.

But it is beautiful. So beautiful.

There is a viewing wall. My father-in-law’s sculpture everywhere, craggy and staring at you. A front hall with a sofa where you can sit and get a good breeze: from front to back. A screened-in porch. A pond out back. A barn, three fields, and stars, everywhere, at night.

Of course I have this fantasy. That we could move in, fix it up. Drink gin and tonics on the screened-in porch. Swimming parties at the pond. You can’t help but see this house and have the same thoughts: What it could be. The fantasy life.

It’s perfect for the dreamer in me: what could be rather than what is.

And I’m all for big dreams, high hopes. I think they’re important. But I want to find a balance. The problem with being a dreamer is that you’re never happy with what is. You’re always thinking about what could be, how happy you could be if things were just a little different.

My father-in-law is 87. He’s one of my favorite people in the world. He is funny and smart and eccentric. He made his living as an artist. His paintings fill our walls wherever we’ve lived.

We visit Warsaw on the weekends. In the summers, we swim in the pond.

It’s only recently that I realized: Oh my God. Oh my God. This might be the closest that I ever get to living out here.

And because of that I’m trying really, really hard, to be happy with what I have.

I want things to be perfect, but they never are.

And I think the same goes for my writing: I keep working at it and working at it and I am frustrated that I’ve been working at it, all this time, and I don’t have anything to show for it. At least, right now.

But I really like what I’m working on. And that makes me happy. To work on it. To focus. To find time for it — no matter what. To be in the moment with it.

Because really, this is the best part. Even if nobody else knows it.

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