I’ve been house-stalking our new house for the past four years. It wasn’t easy to get to, but I would push the stroller sideways, down a busy street, under an overpass, just so that I could turn toward the lake and see it.
I admired it for years.
The house is modern, blue-gray, all sharp angles. I’d crane my neck, trying to get a glimpse of the patios and deck. The sunroom and the light on the water in the afternoon. All golden and glittering.
I had a vivid fantasy of the people who lived there and what their lives were like.
I love to look at houses and imagine the lives of the people inside. That was my favorite thing to do when I lived in New York: walk around the Village at night when the brownstones were all light up and imagine the lives of the people inside.
Here in Virginia, I loved walking the Fan, Museum District and Church Hill neighborhoods. Looking at the beautiful houses and wondering what happened inside. But once we moved to the suburbs, the only house that fascinated me was this modern house on the water.
I imagined that it was owned by a professor-architect. Someone who was very smart, accomplished, who worked hard at their drafting table and then stepped outside in the afternoon to take a break and stare at the water. I wondered what their lives were like and if they were happy in their beautiful house on the water. I imagined that they had to be.
I checked the house on Zillow. It was just within reach, but barely. I made a promise to myself: If that house ever came on the market, I would put a bid on it.
Then it did.
And after a small bidding war, the house was ours.
It was a surprise to learn that the current owners weren’t at all like I had imagined. They were elderly, smoked heavily, and had four brown teeth between them. But we liked them and they liked us and they sold the house to us, for which I will be forever grateful.
But still I was curious. About the house and its story. I knew that it had been built by a local architect, Ernie Rose. I did a Google search but came up empty.
I turned to the archives at the Richmond Times-Dispatch where I work.
And that’s where I hit the jackpot.
More next time….