The next four months were interesting. We took several trips to what would be our new island, to look for houses. Those in real estate often say location trumps all other home features; it’s the one thing you can’t change. In our case, we had to decide in particular where on the island we wanted to be (near the beach, near the salt marsh, mid-island, near the bridge for easy mainland access, etc.).
We toured many homes on our island during that time period, so I can tell you one thing with certainty: There are a lot of homes on my sweet island that I could have lived in, homes I could have built a life in, homes I could have loved for one reason or another. I’ve driven by many of them, time and again, and wondered enough about the what-ifs to craft a book on each. Maybe one day I will.
But they all, in one way or another, would have offered a life we would love to have lived, if only we had several to exhaust. Like everyone else, however, we just have the one, so there were choices to be made.
Finally in the spring we settled on one side of a duplex right by the ocean. I had seen and been smitten by the other half of the duplex in December of the previous year, right after we’d discovered the island, but had balked at the price and the idea of a duplex that would potentially be “shared” with tourists much of the year. So, we hadn’t considered making an offer. When we saw the other half that next spring, however, after having weighed all our options, we decided to make an offer. Ultimately, our offer was accepted, and we waited for the steps leading up to the closing to be completed. The house was in the vacation rental market, and I still remember the gist of what a child wrote in the guest book left lying on the coffee table. She’d had the best week of her life there, and wished she could live there at the beach. While LCB and the realtor talked numbers, I imagined the girl, and I imagined the lives my boys would live here, growing up by the beach. As we navigated each step toward closing successfully, the new life began to seem increasingly real.
The day before closing, however, we were out running some pre-closing errands when LCB received a phone call. It was not good. In the world of beach property, different “zoning” drastically affects insurance rates and therefore home values. Mere hours before closing, we were told that, due to a mistake from years ago that had just been uncovered, the home didn’t have the preferred zoning we had been told it had. LCB relayed the news to me at the end of the call, and we drove in strange bursts of talking followed by periods of silence. We had thought this one was in the bag, but we also believe that things happen for a purpose. Oh, and we hate overpaying for stuff. So, after great deliberation, we made the call to let the home go.
At the time, we were scheduled to go back to the Midwest for a brief business stint. All our things were in storage, and we were leaving our beach rental, so suddenly we were in a holding pattern. This didn’t last long, however. We had seen a newer single family home earlier that year, one I had told LCB to forget because I wasn’t really one much for new homes. LCB wasn’t either, but two or three days after we’d arrived back in the Midwest, he came to me and said the words.
“I think we should put an offer on that house.”