Have you ever seen the movie 'Love and Basketball'? It's an turn of the century (yes, this century!) romantic comedy, starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan. But it's more than just a romantic comedy. It's about family bonds, personal and family expectations, and pursuing your goals. It's a great movie, and it's available on most streaming services.
But what, the gentle reader is wondering, does this movie have to do with the Smelly House? Well, nothing. But, the words love and basketball have great significance on my relationship with Smelly. Approximately 10 years ago, I was in the midst of the condo building's rehab phase, and, quite frankly, I was getting frustrated with my lack of return on my emotional (and time) investment on my property. So, I started looking at single family houses in the Boston area. And, as many of you know, the cost of living in Boston is high, one of the highest in the nation. You can pay more for a parking spot in downtown Boston (or Brookline) than for a single family in my Ohio hometown. So, you can imagine the sticker shock when I started looking at single family homes.
When searching for a single family home, I had narrowed my search to 3 Boston suburbs, all adjoining. The suburb closest into the city was sprawling, with a wide variety of neighborhoods and price ranges...but the schools were not good and lots of muddled homes. However, there was 1 corner of the town I really liked, and it abutted a massive park, so that was included in my 'search area'. The next town was a biking mecca, with easy access to downtown, lots of great cycling from my door, a plethora of well maintained older homes, and very good suburban schools. The 3rd town was home to one of the top school districts in the state, but I could only afford the very lowest priced homes....my 'stretch goal', if you will.
I had looked at probably 50 homes during the first year of my search. Weekends and weekends spent with my realtor, looking at so many sad sack houses that it was sad. I remember, one summer day, trying to find my way to an open house, and had gotten lost. I turned onto a quiet street, and saw a group of neighborhood kids playing basketball in the street, their hoop dangling over the dead end street, instead of a small, New England urban driveway. As I turned around to find the open house, two thoughts raced through my mind...what a gorgeous neighborhood and forget about this neighborhood, it will be too expensive. And, I promptly forgot about it.
During the course of my first year of my home search, I had really only fallen in love with one home (in town #2). It was a virtually unmuddled bungalow, complete with unpainted gumwood trim, a fireplace, a dining room complete with a window seat, and good sized kitchen. But the owner and I could not come to an equitable agreement on final pricing (there was a potential structural issue I was concerned about)..so I reluctantly moved on. I still do dream about this house and consider it the 'one that got away'.
10 or so months later, my realtor called me on a Saturday morning and said, 'I think I've found the sad sack house. It's a small house on a dead end street, in a great neighborhood, but neglected by its current owners. And due to its condition, I don't think there will be a bidding war. Come see it now'. So, I packed up and drove across town (to town #2). As I approached the house, I saw a basketball court facing the street, and strong sense of deja view. But could not identify where that feeling came from. I loved the neighborhood, but the house needed work. So, I gave the owner one offer, which was turned down, and I went on with life.
Only after my 2nd offer was accepted, and as I stood in the driveway of the Smelly House with the moving van (surveying my neighborhood and marveling at my good fortune) did it hit me. I had visited the Smelly House more than a year earlier, watching my soon to be neighbor's daughter play basketball..on my way to some long forgotten open house.
So, I think I was always meant to own the Smelly House. It grabbed me from the minute I landed on its street. Even before I met Smelly. And on the days I am so frustrated I can cry, I remember the story of Love and Basketball..and how these two things, and the universe, led me to the Smelly House.
Just a professional gal who loves old houses. Who strives for a balance between city and country living. And who'd like to leverage her new town's bike culture, to get back into gear...both mentally and physically.