Buying, owning and residing in a permanent home has never held much of an attraction to me. The idea of moving on has always appealed to me. I have no idea where I want to go, which is probably the chief reason why I don't really go anywhere. There is no clear vision of a place --not like there was when I first came to Charleston --and so I stay.
Looking at the house at the end of the driveway, I sort of shrugged, not particularly impressed. The yard was well-kept; clipped, trimmed and sculpted almost like a child's play set. It seemed incredibly clean, like a house that had only been taken out of the box and played with a couple of times before the owners decided it wasn't that much fun.
Inside, the earnest wood paneling and shag carpeting summoned up the ghosts of Greg, Marsha, Bobby, Cindy and that little bitchy girl who complained about always living in the shadow of her much smarter and significantly more attractive sister.
"What do you think?"
I liked the other place better, the one that was closer to the highway and closer to the noise, but I walked the rooms and studied the grounds. I saw nothing obviously wrong. The walls and roof appeared to be solid. The floor wasn't rotting. There were no chalk outlines, bloodstains or signs of diabolic infestation.
No, the rooms, while not expansive, were comfortable --and there were enough for everyone. No having to double up. No turning a bathroom, a kitchen or a closet into a place to lay your head. There was even space for me to write and space for my wife to write, paint or make sculpture from piles of human skulls, if she so chose and not that she would.
It even had a dishwasher, which everyone believes is the symbol of my emancipation.
There were a lot of windows and plenty of light. The views were of trees and hills, not the shuttered windows of next door neighbors.
My son would have room to run. He's a little boy who needs room to run, trees to climb and amphibians to endlessly torment. The houses in the neighborhood, also, were scattered. Fewer gawking eyes and listening ears: things you think about when your family is different in ways most people don't expect.
I hated that it was so far out of town --about fifteen miles, which is nothing --but it wasn't as far as my wife wanted to go.
"A real compromise," she said and that's what it was.
And it wouldn't be so bad. We'd each have a place for ourselves, space to scratch the earth and try to make something grow. There are fruit trees and it's quiet.
So, I said yes, and this is where our story begins.