Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fantasia: Midcentury Home Lust

Is this what grieving is about?  I go from one obsession to another, with intermittent periods of complete exhaustion, sometimes sadness and burnout, and lots of crank as in cranki-ness.  Ouch, this is hard. And whoever in the world remains friendly with me, well, I'll be thankful for that...more than the mountains and the trees and the ocean and anything else.  I need friends. This, at least, has been established.
Here's a photo display of the last two weeks' escapade.  For some odd reason, I dragged Peter to an open house about two weeks ago, and promptly, as we walked into the home I teared up and Peter announced that the house had an uncanny resemblance (actually, a reminder) of our midcentury ranch in Vermont.

  So we descended into the land of Fantasia.  
Have Topiary?
The house is stunning and remarkable.  Impeccably maintained since the 1950's by one lovely family, everything from wallpaper to midcentury furniture to clean wood panelling and a massive basement that contains a full wet bar and deco backdrop. 

And if we had a wet bar...what would we a bar?  Yes!!!!
Each of it's five (yes FIVE) bathrooms is tiled in a different retro color (you know the drill, mauve, pink, green, black) tile and many lovely showers with glass doors and festive matching wallpaper and built-ins galore. 

wallpaper, wallpaper, wallpaper!
We were fortunate, today, to spend some quality time in the place to explore and really feel out the possibilities and drawbacks. 
A visit, tour, fantasia continues...Dig the stainless gutters, wrought iron railings, and poodle sculpture!
 What's not to love?  Well, I guess first and foremost is the fact that we like our life here just enough that any move within the same community seems like a big freakin' deal and not really worth it.  And probably the biggest barrier of all is that every horizontal-emphasis house in our sweet community sort of lacks the indoor outdoor flow that makes a midcentury ranch style house lovely.  Situated sideways on long/narrow Chicago style lots, we lose the all-important patio/backyard indoor meets outdoor feel. 

Eichler: the gold-standard
 And so it goes.  It's just not the right time, but it was nice to dream a bit for a few days.  Here's to hoping that someone can do something wonderful with this house, but I insist that I'm the only person in Oak Park who could completely realize the dream that is this home.  Just about anybody else is gonna rip and tear and you-know-what.  And so goes another lost set of memories.  Do I want to spend the rest of my life keeping the memory of this particular house alive?  Not speaking...not exactly what we should be doing for the next five, ten, fifteen years. I wandered from room to room, cabinet to cabinet, the reality that this is not the time or place settled in.  So I reverted to my former self...the one that loves estates and experiences and tiny items, things that can stir our memories or dreams from the past.  Although most of the house is entirely cleaned out, except for the beautiful furniture and quite a few pieces of art on the walls, there were a few cabinets that still contained the accoutrements of the owners past lives.  Take, for example...tucked away in a corner basement cabinet, a stack of sixties style knitting magazines, right next to a stack of horse magazines.

It's the FIESTA hand-knit pattern-book!
  I grabbed one, and it was a jarring image, perfect knit table dresses, each named after a place in Latin America.  One page, with lovely script handwriting from the owner of the house, I snatched without hesitation.  And so a piece of my lovely dream-house did come home with me.  And maybe, some day, I'll make a dress...maybe a dress called: Vera Cruz.  Yeah, I like the Vera Cruz, it's a coat with ribbing and a swanky collar.  It'll do, and when I wear it around town, I'll think of the most fabulous, well loved house in the corner of our town, a house that a family loved and loved and cared for and filled with valuable objects and memories.
And if that house, by that time, is gone or dramatically transformed, I'll pinch myself and remind myself that I can't do all the work.  In fact, I can only do a little tiny bit of the work. The work, that is, the work that is required of all of us, all of the time.  So...In the midst of grieving the loss of my Dad, and trying to keep his memory alive, and to honor his own experiences and where he came from and what he shared with me and our community....Is it truly prudent for me to throw myself in an entirely different direction and try to keep the memory alive...the memory of a Nice Educated & Stylish & Careful  Jewish Family in a big swag house in Suburban Chicago Area?  Probably not.  It's not my work.  My love and appreciation are there, but I can't rescue a house that holds a beautiful grand piano and needlepoint pillows and paintings and tile and stainless steel gutters and a great big Saarinen Table in the Kitchen. It ain't me, babe, It ain't least...I don't think so!

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