This old house ... unexpected lessons in kindness

When we moved to Salt Lake City, we needed to find a home: a safe little haven while we enjoyed this two-year adventure into the unknown.

After settling the kids into their new school, finding a home was my main task. And since I am obsessed with real estate, I took to it with gusto.

I must have looked at 25 houses that winter, as the snow poured down in quantities we Queenslanders had never seen. I amused (or bemused?) my agent with my frequent comments of, “I'll know it when I see it” and “I want to feel nestled in to a street.” (And with my many Australian terms, such as ‘keen’ – as in, “I'm not too keen on that 70s kitchen” – and ‘grotty’ – as in, “I think the whole thing looks a bit grotty.”)

Every day I'd scroll through the sale listings, searching for the perfect place to call our (temporary) home. Since I'm a big believer in manifestation (attracting what you focus on), I drew up a list of features I really wanted in a house and stuck it on the fridge. Among those items I'd scrawled ‘mountain views’ and ‘friendly street’.

In and out of homes we'd trudge, each one charming me in its own way (Salt Lake City has gorgeous historic homes), but none capturing my heart in the way I knew one would.

Until finally, close to Christmas and close to exasperation with the search, I took a long hard look at a listing that had been online for about six months. 

The photos were awful. The entire house looked to be bright yellow, and the garden looked beyond overgrown (which was a worry since there's not even a hint of green around my thumb). But some of its features appealed to me (the number of bedrooms, the bright airy basement), and I was desperate. So, I added it to that day's search list and off we went.

As the agent pulled up outside the house, I let out a very Australian, “Is this it? You're joking?” It was it. He wasn't joking. 

Sitting nestled in to a lovely family-friendly street, with partial views of the mountains, was our home. I knew it before I'd even opened the car door; before I'd even stepped through the funny little rounded front door. Home.

It wasn't as garish yellow as its publicity photos declared. In fact, it was more buttery and far more beautiful than any house I'd seen to date. And its garden wasn't growing out of control, but was rather magical and meandering (and later we'd discover, full of fruit). The camera can indeed lie. It had this time.

Four steps inside and I knew. I had my mobile out and was calling my husband before the agent had even shown me the kitchen. Nothing was grotty, and I was keen on the lot of it. I had found our home.

And what a beauty she has been. Warm during the winter snow, and cool during the desert-dry heat, she's served us well. Many Australian family and friends have come through her doors in the short time we've owned her. We've had a Christmas here, a Thanksgiving here, a Halloween here, a big birthday party here – and soon we'll have a farewell from here. She has been a great home away from home.

We're now preparing the old girl for sale. Thinking about this with a mixture of sadness at the thought of leaving and excitement to be going home to Australia, I said to my husband, “She's been around since 1931, and she will go on. She didn't need us, but we surely needed her.”

And his reply was instant and heartfelt: “Oh, I don't know. We left her far better than we found her, so I think she needed us too.”

And I thought: wouldn't it be a gift to the world if we all left each other better than we found each other? If we all loved each other and added value to each other, just by being together and showing kindness? If we repaired minor ‘damage’ where we found it, and built on the beauty that was already there? If our paths crossed for the purpose of adding, improving, enhancing where necessary, not needlessly taking away or tearing down? Wouldn't that be something? If we were positive parts of another person's story – a loving chapter or a lighter chapter or a friendly or fun chapter?

Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Wouldn't the world feel more like home?

 

 Full-on winter

Full-on winter

 Same-same, but summer

Same-same, but summer

 Grateful for this space ...

Grateful for this space ...

 Once the snow melted, the garden turned up lots of spring goodies ...

Once the snow melted, the garden turned up lots of spring goodies ...

 Halloween ...

Halloween ...

 Christmas time ...

Christmas time ...

 Cheers to that ... 

Cheers to that ... 

How about you? Have you learnt lessons in kindness from a home or place or experience? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natalie Bartley