It took us 9 months to find our Knoxville house. We knew the kind of house we wanted. Something kinda old, but kinda turnkey. We wanted to be north or south of the city, rather than follow the strip mall development westward. We’d look furiously for a while, then give up, then start over again. We were blessed with an extraordinarily patient real estate agent, thank goodness.
Then we found it. I’d fallen in love with a neighborhood we’d stumbled across, but alas the house we found there was under contract. But something about that neighborhood kept calling me back, and I continued to drive through at least once a week, just to see what was up. And then I saw it, a little house for sale just around the block from the first one we’d found. And although it had taken us nine months to find this house, it took only one visit for us to be sure that this was it. We made an offer that night, and it was accepted.
Both Man and I were very ginger with this house. It was ours, of course, or at least we had the right to pay a mortgage on it. But we were always afraid that we’d break it, crap it up with all our stuff. It took us nearly a year to hang anything on the walls. We never made any drastic changes to this house. Although I thought about things from time to time, I loved that little house exactly the way it was.
There were many many good reasons for us to ultimately leave Knoxville. The house, however, was one of the most difficult parts to leave. If it had been feasible to move it with us to Blacksburg, I would have (although I don’t think our lovely neighbors would have come, too, alas). But it was time to leave. Three people and a dog were pretty cramped in that house. It was time to be good stewards and turn it over to the next owner.
We had a day to find our Blacksburg house. I realize how fortunate we are to be able to live in a house, but still, we spent that day looking at a lot of crap. At the end of the day, we picked the least crappy house (not really crappy, but perhaps “unloved for several years” is a better description) . It is walking distance to campus, has hardwood floors, and while it needs a lot of work, has good strong bones. It was the best choice available to us at the time, but I think it ended up being the best choice for us.
Luckily we sold our Knoxville house before our first mortgage payment was due in Blacksburg, and the extra cash flow allowed us to update the kitchen and move forward with other repairs. And while our house has quirks and charm (charming quirks?) it didn’t have the same character of our Knoxville house, the story that we could hold on to.
Until a few weeks ago. Mega and I were walking the dog and he noticed an antique car at a neighbor’s house (boys have some kind of sonar for wheels, I swear). An elderly man noticed Sam, and ran over to the car to honk the horn. So, we stopped by to make small talk. He asked were we lived, and I told him.
“Did you buy your house from so-and-so?” he asked. I said yes.
“I built that house,” he said.
Now, you don’t meet the man who built your house everyday, especially when your house is more than 50 years old. I didn’t get much story, what with Mega and Muttley biting at my ankles, I didn’t have time to ask many questions. What I do know is that he moved the house from a cross street closer to the university, and then modified and expanded it. Wow.
He called it the Orchard House. Was it on an orchard? I have no idea–the street he moved it from has a lot of commercial development now, so it would be hard to know. But I love the name, the Orchard House. And now that I know a little bit more about it, I am coming to love this house.