26 May 2010

Celebratory lunch

After the close of my non-homeowner life --- which went vastly more smoothly than friends had warned; we finished after 45 minutes; the title agent was from Easley, S.C., so we chatted and smiled over our shared home state --- I proposed a celebratory lunch at l'etoile, one of our favorite places for brunch. We had yet to eat there for lunch, and this meal held its own against its sister Sunday fare.

We were by far the youngest couple in attendance, and lingering over lunch in the company of Charlottesville's well-heeled retired made me feel oddly luxurious, as though I could forget I was using Paid Time Off and was instead a well-to-do young woman who naturally spent her midday meals in the finest restaurants, dressed in Anthropologie from head to toe and nibbling on smoked salmon and potato salad whilst sipping sweet tea.

Actually, we started lunch with a glass of champagne --- not sparkling wine from California, mind you, but champagne from Champagne, France. We ended it two hours later with black coffee and coconut cake. And all the while, we were seated in our own pale room, with an oil painting of the marsh at sunset above us.

After lunch, we packed up a few boxes and brought then over to 808 Bolling. I had dressed down by then, and wearing my Pumas, explored the backyard more thoroughly. So much had sprung up and out since last I had seen the yard, a month or so ago. My favorite discovery, by far, was of a bush of lavender. I went into little raptures over it.

24 May 2010

Lemon Shorts.

Some women dress for Occasions: the inevitable office cocktail parties, hallowed Christmas services, the weddings of friends and family, etc.

But the more I grow up, the more I love dressing for occasions, sans capital "O." Block party? Outfit! Tubing down the James River? Outfit! Tuesday at the office? Outfit!

Closing on my first house?


We start with a nipped-in eyelet jacket by Tabitha. I wanted a jacket or blazer for the business-y aspect of the proceedings.

This little sleeveless slip of a top goes underneath. The ruffles complement but don't compete with the femininity of the jacket.

But lest we get ahead of ourselves with the frillage, I'm anchoring this look with a pair of washed cotton trousers.

But who knows. I may wake up and throw on my trusty skinny jeans. Now, back to packing.

PS-The lemon shorts reference is to what I originally went to Anthro for --- a pair of yellow shorts and a white blouse for the moving-in day. But no shorts were to be found, so a closing outfit happened instead.

23 May 2010

Packing is not magic.

Packing has made me abandon my fidelity to Montgomery's definition of "magic." I'm now clinging fervently to Harry's. O! To wave my willowy, good for charms 14-inch birch-with-unicorn-hair-core wand with the singular wrist swish and call "pack"! (Hopefully with better results than Tonks.)

(A fourth of our book boxes.)

(Bare shelves are forlorn.)

(How many records and magazines does a household need? Plenty!)

(Funny how the light changes in a space as things are rolled up and put away.)

13 May 2010

I like big bins and I cannot lie ...

I bought this linen Jenna Rose bin at O'Suz this afternoon with birthday money from my parents.

I love it so!

It's going to live in our green bedroom and be used as a laundry basket. Since the bedroom doesn't have a closet in which to hide a plastic basket, I'll collect my dirty socks in this little charmer.

I like it so much, I may have to buy the bicycle-print one for my beau!

12 May 2010

Why Virginia?

When I was about 11, the ideas of ancestry and home became fixed notions in my little mind. Two events birthed this fixation: I read L.M. Montgomery's Emily of New Moon, with its unyielding, grinding emphasis on family and pedigree, and I became aware that some of my classmates' own pedigrees outdated my own. I boasted of my great-grandparents emigrating to America in 1920, proud of my ancient lineage, till I learned the boy I hated had streets named after his family members, who founded the Southern town in which we lived. Southerners match Montgomery in their familial obsessions, and I writhed under the knowledge that I dared have relatives living above the Mason-Dixon line and could not claim a great-great somebody who had fought in The War. (For the uninitiated, not to be confused with World War II, but the Civil War, or War of Northern Aggression, as a history teacher of mine called it.)

Ancestry and home have become constant ruminations, mental themes I frequently touch and sound in my adulthood. I pore over public documents, looking for the birth record that will link me to my undisclosed past. I dream about old houses in France and forests in Germany, wonder if there are distant cousins in Poland who survived the 1940s. I shrug off the vagrant, poor Scotch-Southerners who apparently never got around to joining the butternut army. And all the while, I wish there was a place, a house, that was my family's, had been my family's, for generations. I want a family graveyard, a rose bush my grandmother planted, an archway under which a great-great-grandfather was married. A spot on a wall where my parent's height was marked out as a child.

I was born in New Jersey, but never lived there within waking memory, and shrink from the state's loud, seedy reputation. I was raised in the South, but distinctly made to feel an interloper by the authentic residents, because of my birthplace and "lack" of "Family." (And yes that capital "f" was intentional.) To sum up, I always felt betwixt and between, wholly belonging to neither.

Which is why I love Charlottesville, Virginia. Here is a pleasant mix of restless, adventurous young people from the Deep South looking to escape their ancestors' clutches, and quiet, gentle Yankees looking to escape brash, bright snow. We are the middling ones, downing our Firefly and equally eager for manners and punk shows. I haven't found an ancestral home, but I sure as hell have found a good one.

02 May 2010

Chutes & Ladders

This classic children's board game -- which, admittedly, I was not over-fond of as a child --- serves as a tidy symbol for how the house-buying process has moved in the past two weeks. We climb a few rungs upward and onward, only to slide back down the chute. For example: The closing date was moved up to May 21st, per our Seller's request. But our loan underwriter nixed that idea.

Swoosh we go!

There's a lot of swooshing in home-ownership, come to think of it. There's the small and comical, like my brother-in-law stuffing towels up his chimney to plug a draft, only to have said towels fall into his gas-lit fireplace as it was burning. These are the chutes of our favorite childhood park.

But then there are the chutes equivalent to the three-story drop at the water-park, really meant for one's father, but on which one's father coaxes your 90-pound, 14-year-old self to take a chance. *Shudder* Like my friend Erika's basement flooding the week she moves into her new house. Or my friend Mac discovering that his AC ducts are a maze of silver that does not actually push cold air through the house. Or even my grandparents' house losing part of its roof during Hurricane Hugo.

That's like having the d___'ed chute simply collapse mid-ride.

So what are the ladders of home-ownership? All the small, lovely tangibles and intangibles. Like putting a vase of daffodils you picked in some secret field on the mantel. Finding the perfect shade of deep, rich brown for a wall. Looking out a window and loving the view all the better because it is tempered by old, wavering glass. And all these actions are drawn deep and held steadfast through the knowledge that this is your place.

That would be a nice ending for this post, but since I have mentioned Mac, I want to cite something he said a few weeks ago. We were talking house-shop, and Mac said owning a house is the youngest thing he's ever done. I found this idea incredibly charming, and accurate. Buying a house has made me feel woefully young and green, more so than staying out late or going to shows ever has. I suppose because us renounced hipsters are old hands at the latter, but the former is brand, sparkling new.