While I’m in a business where having a working website and active social media content can be critical contributors to my success, I didn’t initially have those things in mind when I wrote my first “blog post.” As I mentioned on my home page, I am a self-proclaimed nerd. I’m not only a lover of reading, but I also love to write; I enjoy expressing my thoughts on “paper.”
The first post on this site was actually written months before this site had taken shape. I had been composing thoughts and sentences in my mind for weeks until the compulsion to get out of bed very early one morning in order to actually release the words from my mind was too great to deny. I hope you enjoy my post entitled,
For the Love of Antique Homes
I get attached to things. Some things more than others. I still have all my books from college, Birkenstocks—I still wear—that my husband bought me when we were first dating, and plants that have been around since before my son was born and have made the trek across the country with me. It’s okay, you can repeat that to yourself and make a face. “Fifteen-year-old plants, really?” Yup, that’s right. But, my vehicles…those are another story.
I recently had to part with my 2007 Jeep Commander. It was in great shape and I loved it but since becoming a Realtor this loyal Jeep of mine really started racking up the miles and she was beginning to consistently complain about it.
“Babe, it’s time for a new car,” my husband would say but I didn’t want to hear it. She’d never left me stranded and I loved hearing her throaty V8 when I’d remote start her on a winter morning before effortlessly backing out of a driveway deep with snow. This debate went on for a couple years between my husband and I; both of us understanding each others point of view but my emotional attachment to my car getting in the way of logic.
“Mary, it’s just a car! It doesn’t have feelings!” I would hear repeatedly. And, of course, I know that. He’s right. But it felt like so much more to me. In the end, logic…and Jake…won and I must say, I am loving my new Jeep. (Just don’t tell the Commander that!)
I was driving a car full of other Realtors around on our weekly Broker Caravan last Tuesday in the Garrison/Cold Spring/Putnam Valley area when I began to discover another inanimate object that I was unaware I was so attached to.
While we viewed over ten different homes, it was the homes built in the 17 and 1800s that spoke to me that day. The homes with the low ceilings, narrow staircases and wide plank wood flooring. The homes with the creaky basement stairs, the multiple fireplaces and ornate trim work. The homes that other Realtors would say, “Does it feel like the floor is sloping to you?” or they would point out, “Look how the trim above the door isn’t level with the ceiling. Why didn’t they fix that while they were renovating?” And I would agree. Yes, the floor is sloping…but I kind of like it. It reminds me of my parents’ house. And yes, I noticed that the trim above the door wasn’t level with the edge of the ceiling as well but I also noticed that the carpenter had to make a choice: either make the trim level with the ceiling or make it level with the door and he had chosen the door, which I pointed out and explained to the other Realtor. We both laughed when we agreed that if we were over 200 years old we’d be more than out of level!
My parents are finally selling their house on Staten Island. They’ve lived there almost 40 years; it’s the only house I’ve ever known. It was built in the 1850s and is full of character…or “character defects,” depending on the eye of the beholder. There is a ripple in the wood floors in the dining room that has always been there. You know that video you’ve seen in science class of an earthquake, where the ground has that raised, rolling lump? That’s what this ripple in the floor reminds of me, except it’s frozen in time in one spot and it never flattened back out. All the windows are original to the home. You can see the swirls in the single-pane, mouth blown, handmade glass; I used to love to look through them as a kid and see how the swirls distorted the view of outside. The staircase leading upstairs is steep, another characteristic you only find in a home pushing 200 years old. I never noticed how steep they were until I was at other people’s houses and could feel the difference. But, back to the floors, the southern yellow pine floors. The floors were laid and hammered into place with handmade nails; they are square nails with square heads, probably forged by the local blacksmith…maybe someone in Richmondtown. There are gaps in between some of them where the wood had shrunk a bit, probably being laid while it was still green.
But most people don’t like this kind of “character” anymore. They don’t want drafty windows that need to be held up with a stick in the summer time and the storm windows removed and replaced with the screens. Most people don’t want solid wood panel bedroom doors that look like they were made all uneven when in actuality they probably took more time to make in order to accommodate the settling of the home. Most people want shiny, new homes, with central AC and 9 foot ceilings held up by perfectly plumb walls; no one wants anything to do with plaster and lath walls anymore…if you can find someone who even knows what that is. No, the half-acre of property that my parents’ house has rested on for all these years is coveted by builders where they can construct multiple homes on the same lot.
This Caravan I was on, and its antique homes I was privileged to view, really seemed to strike a chord within me; I have been brought to tears many times since then, thinking about what was probably considered an ordinary colonial farm house when it was built but is now a home that few people can appreciate, but more importantly, few people would want to continue to maintain and love it like my parents did.
I have big plans for those floors though, don’t you worry. My poor husband has been reminded for months that we will be going down to the Staten Island house to pull up the floors and take whatever else I deem as sentimental and transportable. I won’t bore you with all the rest of the items I plan to take with me…down to the Tulips and Daffodils that my mother had transplanted there from another property that was being bulldozed… (I plan to dig those up, too.)
In the end, I guess everything in this world has a given life span and change is all part of the cycle. However, that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to say goodbye to the things we love…even if they are inanimate objects. But, with change comes new opportunities. My parents will be able to split their time between Florida and the cabin in the Adirondacks. I closed the door to my Commander but opened the door to a Grand Cherokee. As for the front door on my parents’ house…my mother is taking that with her.
Mary that was beautiful & I understand how you feel. I had that your house will be torn down but this is what they do now! I love that you will be taking sentimental things – make sure when you come you stop by to say hello. I hate that your parents are leaving – will miss them!😘😘
Hi Claire! Thanks so much. It was a really difficult thing to write at the time; I could barely see through my tears and having now posted this is bringing up all those feelings again! It’s amazing to think of all the wonderful homes on Staten Island that have been ripped down with no regard for all the memories, blood, sweat and tears that made the 4 walls a home. But, like you said, that is “progress.” I will definitely stop by for a visit when I get down there soon! xoxo
Well done. It really is amazing how you can see the character in any home. Even the homes that some people might not give a first glance. Your clients are extremely lucky to have an agent with as much passion and commitment as you. Keep doing what you love. You are extremely good at it.
Thanks love. It means a lot. Thanks for your ongoing support of me along my journey over the years.
Hmm, “homes that some people might not give a first glance”…..sounds familiar haha 🙂