Imagine sitting in a house that’s being jackhammered. First slowly. Boom…boom. And then BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM over and over in rapid succession. That’s what it sounds like when a male pileated woodpecker takes notice of your roof and decides to serenade all and sundry lady pileateds with his awesome prowess. Said prowess isn’t quite as appreciated by one of my species, however, but rather has the ability to induce the flinging of invective, often with a religious bent: “Jesus Christ, what the hell are you doing up there???” Apparently, he who makes the most noise wins. And these guys have learned that the most noise can be made by pounding on a metal roof. Which I have. Now imagine being awoken this way in said house. From a dead sleep. At 6AM. Ah, life in the PNW. How it does entertain and delight.
I didn’t set out with the objective of buying a house when I got here. Not really. I found myself at one point saying, “Not for a year,” initially. But the allure of homeownership was undeniable, even I had to admit. My parents had never owned their own home and neither had I. It never seemed a priority. I liked being able to call the super when the toilet “flushometer” needed replacing, or a faucet was leaking. Or any other repair was required. I lived in a rental townhouse in Pennsylvania for thirteen years, and that satisfied the need to live in a somewhat self-contained unit, with stairs. And limited responsibilities. Of course, I couldn’t paint the walls magenta if my heart so desired, but that seemed like a small concession.
So why this now? Maybe because The Rock was the first place I’d ever been that felt like “home” on such a deep and intrinsic level. Brooklyn was where I grew up. It came to symbolize my parents and family and friends and so on, but it wasn’t where I wanted to spend the rest of my life. It was where the best bagels and pizza could be found, and I don’t deny the old saying, “You can take the girl out of Brookyn…but you can’t take the Brooklyn out of the girl.” I wouldn’t be me without having come from there. But once my mother passed away in 2013, the appeal was definitely even more limited.
Pennsylvania was nice. I loved that too. Yet, it was time to move on.
I can recall a day a few months into my new life here, when I was standing outside on the deck at the ferry terminal in Seattle, ready to come home on “The Boat”. It was blatantly, blousily Spring, with all of those accompanying smells in the soft, early evening air, and then suddenly, the smell of low tide hit me in the face. To some, this smell might be unpleasant. To me, it was the smell of life. Of sea. Of everything I loved. It had the power to draw tears. And that was when I knew, indisputably, that I had found home.
See, it hadn’t even really occurred to me that I was missing this smell. I went back and forth to Brooklyn often enough over those thirteen years, and especially the last two, that I could smell that almost whenever I wanted. But I didn’t live there anymore. It wasn’t a part of my day-to-day consciousness. And over time, I’d forgotten how important this was to who I am. This smell woke my most authentic self, and made me realize that I was now in a place that wasn’t my parent’s place…or my friends’ place…but mine, and mine only. So having a house and putting down roots, as it were, was just a natural progression.
Six months into living in my apartment on Bainbridge, a guy at work who sold real estate on the side stopped me in the hall to chat with me. I happened to say to him that I was indeed contemplating buying a house, but that I was going to wait until the following year. What he said next was like the proverbial thunderclap – “The prices are going to go up now that the economy has gotten better – maybe you should start looking now.” Sure, he was hitting me up to see if I was going to be a potential client, but he only sold on the Seattle side, and didn’t know the Bainbridge market. But he did suggest a realtor I could use, and I casually started looking at listings.
And that was when all the fun began.