One of my dreams of living in the countryside was to get out on the hill every day I could. I had a romantic notion of packing my laptop, or pen and paper, in my rucksack and setting off for somewhere quiet and beautiful where I would spend whole afternoons staring at the skies and writing perfect prose. Reality hasn’t worked out that way of course, it’s been cold and wet, or I’ve been too busy so today was the first weekday since I moved in that I went out for a country walk. Though I had a vague plan and a map in my pocket I wasn’t entirely sure where my footsteps would take me until I found a road that led me to a house we thought about buying a few months back. Not that one but another that came quite close, but in the end was too much for us to take on.
I changed my mind a dozen times but in the end my feet took me along the lane that makes my heart leap when I catch sight of the hills to the left and right, the horses and sheep grazing in the fields, the dry stone walls and further on, the ducks that paddle and quack in a flooded corner.
I wanted someone to have bought it, to take that dilapidated old house that had once been the grandest in the area but now was full of mildew and cobwebs and patches of rot and turn it into something loved. And when I saw the sold sign discarded on the overgrown lawn and the skip outside the garage I was glad. I walked on up the lane I once dreamt of taking to for my early morning run, and I was glad for the person who could look forward to all this.
But later, on the way back down, I heard voices and caught sight of the builder heaving in a bag of cement through the open front door and it brought an inexplicable tear to my eye. I thought of all the hope and the dreams invested in that house, of the other people’s lives that would flourish there once it was made into a home. And I wished it was me.
I have no reason to feel that way, I could have bought the house and made it my own, and I chose to walk away. And yet.
I hope they keep the old panelled doors and restore the beautiful parquet floor. I hope they don’t change the crazy angled hallways. I hope they put in a new kitchen diner where they can have friends round for dinner, light a fire in the lounge and sit looking out at the sunset on the hills beyond the garden. I hope that when they bought that place they imagined all those things or other things, but most of all I hope that someone has taken that house who will make it into their home.
As for me, I am happy where I am. I haven’t found my dream home yet but until I find it, for as long as it takes, this place where I am will do fine.