“You have a lovely garden!”, said my new friend, refering to my backyard – she’s British. I only have a tiny vegetable garden with a few dahlia plants but my back yard is green, some shade from the remaining maple and oak trees and very, very private.
We had planned to walk around the capital ‘city’ but, after a brief pause on my deck, where she sat on one of my beautiful Adirondack chairs, on a gorgeous, breezy day with temperatures in the seventies, she much prefered the peace of my backyard.
I’d ‘warned’ my friend when I brought her to my house that it’s a ‘fixer-upper’ and I no longer have the energy nor do I care to do any more work after 20 years of – single handedly – trying to maintain, if not improve, my home. I’d said that I intend in the next year to sell it although I have no idea/plans for where or what I want to do next; all I think about is unloading it so I don’t have the headache of upkeep.
My daughter and son-in-law had said they wanted to rent-to-buy when they moved in but very soon after decided that it isn’t modern enough and the cost, as my daughter said, ” to gut it and start all over”, was more than they wanted to invest – they’ll be looking for a new, modern, spacious home next year. Meanwhile, long-story-short, the vibe is that my house, that I bought to raise my children in on my single-parent income, is a piece of shit and even house-cleaning is “a waste of time”.
My friend reframed my perspective for me and this is what she said, not (all) verbatim:
“Your house is lovely. I love it; if you had a master with an en suite, I’d buy it”. I think your daughter’s opinion of your house, that you’ve worked so hard for, has colored your perspective of what you really have – this is wonderful. “If you sell it, you’re a fool”. This is an asset – if you don’t want to live here, rent it for a small income -but keep it.
She now calls it my “mansion” (she’s told me her home in England is called a ‘doll house’ because it’s ‘tiny’ but she loves it and it has a “lovely garden”). I went to bed that night thinking of her words and something began to change for me.
I woke early the next morning and instead of rolling over to go back to sleep, I got up and went into my ‘garden’ and ambled around. I noticed my small vegetable garden and flowers (which I finally took a photo of for the first time), the privacy fence I’d never weather-proofed, the weeds growing between the slate stones off the deck, the evergreens that looked alittle beaten down, the general ‘unkempt’ look of everything and I thought of my friend’s words. I have let my daughter’s (entitled) opinion color my perception of what I have worked so hard to pay for and, thus, I’ve dismissed the gem that is mine for trash, refuse, a headache.
I realized that my house has been a source of warmth, refuge and peace. It is mine. I have neglected something that has always ‘been there for me’ and relegated it to an eyesore because I have not invested any TLC. My friend is right and I sent her a text and told her how much I appreciated her opinion and that I have a whole new outlook about my home.
I took my dogs for a walk and then started weeding my front walkway, refilled my birdfeeders. I have all these ideas of small but fun things to do to make my house a home, to make me feel proud and happy to be here. I have so many amenities and possibilities living where I do, specifically my plot in my neighborhood, that I am energized by my new outlook. It has completely changed my mind about what I am going to do in the future and it has given me some energy that I haven’t felt since I was on the AT.