Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Perfect Home

I get to go inside houses. Lots of houses. I go in them when they're first built. I go in them when they're in the middle of a remodel. I go in them when the neighbors are complaining that they're decrepit and ugly and lowering the property values of the neighborhood and ought to be torn down and replaced with something new and modern.

There are little lake cottages that I have dreamed about entering and when I do they are everything I imagined them to be: breezy and light, welcoming and relaxing, creaking and full of wear & tear. I imagine the cousins gathering to sleep on the front screened-in porch, laughing and giggling, listening to the sounds of the lake waves hitting the piers.

There are expensive lake front homes of such a grand exterior I feel lowly and humbled at the mere thought that little old me is privileged enough to enter them -- and usually I'm disappointed. They're large, expansive, and look more like a museum than a home. I imagine a coldness to the families that occupy them. No giggling allowed in a house so formal and fancy.

I can spend countless hours perusing realtor.com for houses to buy and fully believe with my entire being that it should be a law that real estate agents listing a property must post pictures of every room and the yard. I get giddy at the thought of attending an open house because I can't wait to see what's inside.

My mom always said that when looking for a place to live you should look inside every house; never drive by and assume what's on the inside. We're taught that very young: never judge a book by its cover. You never know what is on the inside until you experience it first hand.

I have been so excited and geared up to see the inside of a particular house that on the outside looks absolutely perfect to me. It might have a large porch, flower boxes and the perfect color siding - but when I walk in I find the rooms are tiny, the kitchen a disaster, and the basement floods every time the neighbor flushes his toilet. It might look perfect to everyone driving by, but can you imagine how you'd feel living there? Trapped in its inner hell?

Then there's the house that looks, well, plain. Maybe even less than plain. Someone with less tact might even describe it as ugly. Maybe the siding is old and falling off, and the trim is a color you couldn't describe if your life depended on it. The yard looks a mess and the shed out back is crooked and leaning at a most curious angle. You sigh, fight back the urge to turn around and cut your losses early, but take a step towards the door, because you're willing to take a chance to at least see what's on the inside before you write it off completely.

And once you get inside - oh. my. word. You stand shocked at the beauty. The floors are real wood and polished to a shine. The rooms are spacious and welcoming. There are new appliances in the state of the art kitchen. The bathroom is full of custom tile and a jetted tub and the laundry room is so gorgeous you can't wait to start washing!  Around every corner you find more and more to make you smile. You can see yourself living there. You can see your family gathered around the kitchen island, laughing while eating their morning breakfast. You imagine hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and all the traditions that grow from the love that you feel inside that home. And the price - the price is perfect - less than what you budgeted. It is perfect! In your heart of hearts you know it is absolutely perfect for you! You are home.

Would you buy it? Of course you would!

But what if you were told you had to take the outside as-is. That condition of making this house your perfect home was to accept the un-perfect outside. That you couldn't change a thing. That no matter how many laughs and good times and love and wonderful memories the inside would provide, you would have to deal with the less than perfect outside. Over the years you would lose count of the number of passerby, shaking his head wondering why on earth you bothered with such an ugly, dilapidated looking structure. You would have to put up with the neighbor who refused to let his children play with your children because he's pretty sure you are not the types of people he wants his kids associating with. Several neighbors, in fact. You would forever be catching the curious stares of people walking by and the turned up noses of the people who wouldn't - couldn't - understand that maybe, just maybe, this house was more than what they saw on the outside.

Would you still buy it?

I am in love with the blog written by the amazingly talented Melissa Blake called So about what I said... - and you need to spend a few hours reading it today. Starting right now. And then you need to tell your friends. And your neighbors. And your co-workers. And your family members. And your teens. Especially your teens.

Because once you meet Melissa, and hear her words, and get to know her, you will understand why she is the perfect home.

Melissa was born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a rare genetic bone and muscular disorder - but her words speak to every "normal person" (read: people without Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome). She has this uncanny ability to take everyday words and string them together to put a voice to our fears and anxieties when it comes to love and life. She is, without a doubt, the most talented, hauntingly beautiful voice I have heard in my life. Countless times I have read her post and yelled out, yes! That is exactly how it was! How did you know how I felt that way? She is me. She is you. She is all of us, and yet she is so special and unique I feel so lucky I was able to stumble through her door.

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