Who hasn’t seen it and wanted it? For whom is such a vision not inspiring?
What is it about a house on a hill?
My whole life I’ve heard stories about men meeting particular women and telling a friend, “I just met the woman I’m going to marry.” Sometimes in life there is that certainty. Not often, and I can’t say it’s happened to me, but…it happens.
And I believe in magic. Yes, I do.
And I believe in dreams, and I believe that we each have a path that we stumble along, blindly, and from which we take enormous detours, and yes, some of us get lost down blind alleys and dead ends and some of us never get back on our path.
That’s one way to look at it. The other is, we are never, ever off our path. Because where else could we be?
I’ve gone down many blind alleys, into many cul de sacs. I’ve come to many “no trespassing” signs. I’ve had to turn around and go back more often than I’d like to admit. But I’ve always been on my path, even when I felt – or actually was – lost in the woods. And sometimes, you get a vision that reminds you that you are on your proper path. Sometimes, one little thing happens – one chance encounter, one bizarre “coincidence,” one fateful turn – and you see a way forward.
And it can feel silly, it can feel like you’re making something out of nothing, it can feel foolish, it can feel impossible. But it can also feel exactly right.
I went for a walk yesterday, across the highway from my cousin’s house, up on a beautiful hill that I’ve long driven past, but never actually explored. It’s like an island between the highway and the grand, enormous Columbia River. I can see it now, from my desk. It’s right there.
So I walked over. It’s a lovely area, you can hear the freeway, and the passing trains below, but it’s a special little area. And there were nice houses, nothing special I’m always open to new places, new vistas. I was glad I walked over. I would get to 100% of my weekly walking goal.
I had walked through another nearby area a couple of days before, a place only really reachable by car (but fine, I was striving for mileage) and there were a bunch of modern houses, built up a “desirable” hillside, neighborhood, a few of them beautifully-designed, most of them that awful combination of too much money and too little taste. Whether I admired them or not, they felt beyond me in every way – especially financially. I felt like an interloper, a poor person who might be shooed away by private security, or by some Neighborhood Karen who has deputized herself to keep the riff-raff out.
I felt like riff-raff.
It all felt beyond me, out of reach – and undesirable in any case. Doesn’t it seem like some neighborhoods are DESIGNED to make you feel that way? Surely I can’t be the only one who feels this.
In any case, who would want to live in such a neighborhood, reeking of money and privilege, with an air of striving and competitiveness and keeping up with the Joneses? Not me.
Of course, this is ALL in my head, all projection. This was about my feeling poor and unconnected and un-belonging…anywhere. Which is how I occasionally feel. Forget for a moment that I actually chose this, designed this life, and I’m certainly not suffering. But this year of contagion and retreat has underlined my homeless state more than any year before. The only redoubt I have in the current storm is what is offered; I have none of my own. It’s worked out fine, so far, and I remain optimistic about this life. I love my life.
But still: Homeless. Unrooted. Vulnerable.
But also: Free. Connected. Flexible. It’s all a trade-off. And I am on my path.
And as if to underline that, yesterday my path took me past something that took my breath away. I texted a friend, joking and yet deeply serious, saying “I just met the house I’m going to marry.” I sent a friend a picture. She said “Oooooooo.” I got home and told my cousin and his wife that I’d just seen the house I want to live in, and she said, right away, “The white house on the hill.” Yes. My cousin said he’d been there, to pick up a craigslist purchase. Yes.
Everyone got it. Boom. In an instant.
Of course, it’s someone else’s home. It’s far, far, FAR beyond my ability to own – at least my CURRENT ability to own. I tell myself I’ve been a complete loser when it comes to real estate – I wrote and performed a whole one man show about it. It’s my story. But as my friend said, when I said that, “Your past does not equal your future.” It’s true that I’ve walked away from amazing places, places I owned, or co-owned, because I wanted my freedom, and it made perfect sense every time, at the time. Could I have done better? Of course. Would I trade my life to live in any of those homes? No.
I only regret my choices when I find myself temporarily homeless, or feeling off my path, or feeling unrooted. Under stress.
But my years of freedom have also shown me, and this year in particular, that I want a home base, a place to return to. I want a place near my family. I want a place in nature, at least just a bit, with a view of water, and of the rising sun – and moon.
I also want a place near a good airport, because wherever I get a place, I still plan to be gone for a good chunk of the year. I have no desire to abandon this life I’ve built.
I saw a place on El Camino de Santiago last year that gave me that feeling, as I ran between the rain drops on my way into the town that would be my home for the night. I couldn’t keep my eyes off this house, so elegantly situated on a hill, so perfect. It was house I could imagine a life in.
But it was in Spain, and far from an airport, not to mention from family. I want a house in my own country, as crazy as it is, a house for the duration. A house I’m not going to walk away from, or be forced from. I want a home.
So when I walked past “the white house on the hill” yesterday, it hit that same button, brought up those same feelings, and, a year away from El Camino, it suddenly seemed like the right house, but this time, in the right place. It’s exactly where I want to be, even if only for four or five months out of the year. It struck me so hard: This is my vision. This is the place.
This is also “crazy.” I have virtually no savings. I live month to month. The idea that I could ever own a place like that is ludicrous on its face. It’s a fantasy. And the people who live there are no doubt nice, but they love their home, and have the income to support it, they’re unlikely to walk away from it. Even if they did, such things don’t come cheap; Zillow puts it way beyond my reach.
And yet: I believe in dreams, I believe in fate, I believe that knowing what one wants is not just half the battle, but most of it. We can’t always get what we want, it’s true; but sometimes, we do. Sometimes, magic happens, and we get exactly what we want. Sometimes, it takes awhile, but you suddenly find yourself right where you wanted to be, doing what you wanted to do, enjoying the job you never thought you’d get, living with the person you thought was out of your league, in the home you thought was beyond your reach.
It’s happened to me before, and it’s going to happen to me again.
So I’m putting this image out to the Universe, with intention, at the risk of appearing completely foolish. I’ve done that before, too. And it has worked before.
So here’s my vision, here’s my dream, here’s the place I will own, and live in, someday. You may think it’s crazy, I may think it’s crazy myself. But such visions, such feelings, are gifts, and they are powerful. And I want you to see this vision, too, and imagine me and my beloved living in it. Imagination is power.