When I was a little girl, I wanted to live in a mansion. Not a big house. A MANSION. But I grew up and realized mansions weren’t just big. They were also unnecessary, unattainable, and not at all the kind of home I wanted to live in anyway.
I wanted a cozy, well-built house with a view: of the ocean, a lake, or maybe some chickens. With neighbours so far off, I could go topless at the clothesline. Where I could have a clothesline! Mansions were for snobs. Subdivisions were for squares.
I scored a cute little house in Torbay that ticked all the boxes: made with 2x8s instead of 2x6s, a gunshot from the Gallow’s Cove Trail where my dog could run off leash, tasty well water, a lilac tree tickling my bedroom window, a rhubarb plant that WILL NOT DIE, and a nearby Liquor Express. Friends built modern two-stories while I slept easy in my baby bungalow, my petite power bill in a frame on my nightstand.
But something happened this summer that changed everything. A couple down the street had their grandchildren visiting, and every day they came knocking. “Can Max come out and play?” I could hear him securing the Velcro on his sneakers before I could reply.
He’d be gone for hours, occasionally bursting through the front door and bee-lining to his toy-box to switch up his weapon. Then they went back to the Yukon, Max went back to his iPad, and suddenly I knew: we needed neighbours with kids.
My sweet little bungalow has become a pain in the bunghole. If Max says he has no one to play with one more time, I’m going to snap some heads off a bunch of Lego mini figures. If I bump into the leg of Rae’s highchair one more time, I’m going to cut something, like some squash and carrots, but really angrily.
To hell with this picturesque popsicle stand, gimme a mansion in the burbs with a view of some vinyl siding. Okay, not a mansion; I don’t got dem dolla bills. But a few extra square feet sounds nice and doable, with cupboard space for sippy cups, and a garage where we can put our canoe and our bikes and basically everything we own except our car, and an extra bed for when my mother comes to town to clean my toaster, with some sidewalks where I can push a stroller without getting clipped by a big ass pick-up truck, near the in-laws who can babysit more so we can drink more, with NEIGHBOURS WITH KIDS to play with ours so we don’t have to.
Basically, I need to live exactly where I always said I’d never: a subdivision, in Mount fucking Pearl. TELL NO ONE.
It’s time to leave this house and yet I don’t know how. This porch is where Andrew first leaned in for a kiss, and where my hilarious late father farted loudly right before they met. Down the hill is Tapper’s Cove where, four years later, we posed for wedding pictures in a boat on the slip.
This house is where our puppy came home to start our family, and where our babies came home to complete it. Out back is the sloping meadow we slide down in the winter, laughing hysterically as Splash chases and chomps at us all the way to the bottom.
The big birch tree in the backyard has shot up so sneakily these past ten years, we didn’t even notice. Much like the pencil marks climbing up Max’s bedroom wall – proof that broccoli makes you tall, and life is so very short.
A baygirl and creative, I’m supposed to crave this country life. But truth is, I’ve probably been meant for the suburbs all along. I never use my clothesline. I rarely walk that trail. The big birch out back could support a tire swing, but I don’t know; it never crossed my mind ‘til now.
So shove on those sneakers, Max. It’s time to go find you some pals in the Pearl. Just as soon as we sell this house by the bay. Oh, by the way: HO– USE FOR SALE. In terms of square feet: a bungalow. In terms of love: a mansion.