by Dominique Heuermann
There’s this house, actually, it's more like a mini-mansion with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. Each bathroom has a vintage clawfoot tub with Victorian brass feet. I know, I’m drooling too. It’s located in upstate New York, a place I have never been, but a place that I wouldn’t mind living. It has four seasons a year. That’s right, four. That is three more seasons than I get to experience on Hawaii, my island in the sun. Not one or two with intermittent cold spells that make people reach for a light sweater, but four whole entire seasons! Glorious falls and winters in all the spectacular, color changing and snow blanketing glory anyone could ever imagine. And the house? It was built in 1865, the former house of business tycoons by the name of Hale, who made their money in the dry goods market and coal mines. Having no children, the brothers then left the house to their widowed, childless sister. It’s literally known as the Hale House. There’s no tragic history associated with it as far as I can tell, so no danger of weeping spirits haunting the hallways after midnight, but who knows? Family secrets have a way of peeking out behind doors when you least expect them.
I really want it. I don’t know what appeals to me more; The large wrap around porch, the original wood fire burning stoves, or the acres of land behind it. Did I mention the inlaid all-wood flooring dating from circa 1900? Oh yeah, it’s the real deal. I want it…and yet it’s been sitting unsold for over 800 days. Should that worry me? Should it also worry me that there are only 1600 people that live in the town where the house is located? I don’t think I care about that to be honest, as long as there’s a Target or Walmart within driving distance. I’d be too busy working the three acres surrounding the property to care that I had no one stopping by my door to evangelize me or sell me the latest vacuum. I would plant my vegetable garden and fruit trees next to my chicken coop and watch the sun set while I drank a glass of sweet tea.
My springs would be spent planting tomatoes and cucumbers for my summer harvests. My summers would be spent planting pumpkins for the fall and canning tomato sauces, salsas, and pickles. I wouldn’t care about the lack of neighbors because I’d have too many treasures from my trees to can and make into jams, jellies, and sauces. The house would become a sanctuary and a haven. With five bedrooms I’m sure it could house others who feel the need to run away as well.
It’s a bargain, too! Only $199,999! Hell, that’s less than half what we paid for our 3-bedroom townhouse which barely fits our family of five. Did I mention our housing association that likes to fine people for things as ridiculous as having tint on your garage windows, growing unauthorized flowers, or keeping a pair of shoes on your porch? They’re the gestapo of housing authorities all for the low, low price of $350 a month. That’s on top of your pricey mortgage or rent. The Hale House has no housing association. It has breezes through tall grass which bend the wild flowers allowed to flourish around fences. It has no authority to answer to except me and Mother Nature, and I’m sure she’d agree shoes belong on the porch.
The winters would be cold and isolating. I could revel in quiet solitude next to a roaring blaze in my wood burning fire places. I’d even take up drinking tea, or bourbon, whatever one drinks on cold winter mornings to shake the chill out of your bones. The Hales wouldn’t judge me, in fact, I’m sure they would toast to my good health as long as I keep the fires burning, the wood flooring intact, and the claw footed bath tubs clean. What a small price to pay for seasons, solitude, and sanctuary.
I’ve been stalking the online listing for this house for months now, plotting my escape from my citified existence to plant sunflowers and pumpkins, o feed chickens at dawn and tuck them in at sunset. I’m packed and ready, the Hale’s are waiting to welcome me home.
Dominique Heuermann is a current degree candidate at The Mountainview Low Residency MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction.